pride and prejudice

spellbook_2Well, a lot has happened since I last had a chance to put pen to paper. There’s been some good news (Uncle Reggie is alive!), some bad news (I’ve lost Uncle Reggie’s prized skiprock), some revelations (we’ve uncovered a potential portal through time and space), risks (we might disrupt all time and space), and realignments (a rift with the Harpers, a tale which I shall tell in a minute).

As to how we got here, let me borrow a page from Tipwill—quite literally, for I have copied parts of this out of his own diary, which I’ve taken to reading when he’s asleep. After all, the absence of a proper lock on the thing surely means it must be a public document?

Our illustrious mage takes up the tale at our arrival in Silverymoon:

We returned the farmer girls to their families and there was much joy amongst the oppressed, but close-knit farming community. I must confess to the certain feeling of detachment, for this world, this time is not real for me. I cannot grow attached to the here and now if am to later erase it from existence by changing the past.

I used a Veil spell to make us seem a mundane group of hunters as we marched up to the gates to Silverymoon. In the half-light that passed for day in this fallen world, my old home was a forlorn sight. I was tempted to fry the petty toll collector at the gate when he took us for 10 gold just to enter town (my own impatience probably whetted the man’s greed, I must admit), but reason triumphed and we were soon walking the cobblestone road towards the Tall Halfling. Petula went her own way, leaving only Kymm with us.

But we arrived at the scene of a crime: a cleric of Shar named Twi’Lyykt and the Guard captain Sardek were arguing over the corpse of a dead girl. Arnold was able to gather little more by sidling innocently closer, before we were all warned away, except that the girl was an identical twin to Petula! Yet the dead girl, whom it seemed had fallen from a window above, had been dead too long (judging by the dried blood) to be the same girl we’d dropped off beyond the gate. Strange things were afoot …

We went on to the Tall Halfling, but before we could debate what exactly was happening, who did we see sitting at one of the benches drinking mulled wine but .. Petula! The moment she caught our surprised looks, she jumped up and fled!  It was a short battle, which spilled into the streets, and we received help from a strange new ally: a purple-eyed Drow mage. The City Guard were being drawn to the commotion, and not wanting any Shadovaar attention I conjured an illusion bank of smog to conceal Shinzu and Arnold as they brought down ‘Petula’ – who was a fighter in her own right but could not defend against our numbers and skill.

We returned into the Tall Halfling before the Watch could pinpoint who caused the trouble, and there we were introduced to Grindelman, the proprietor – and Kymm’s adoptive father. The man was, indeed, a tall halfling, and a decent sort who was deeply grateful for Kymm’s return. He introduces us to the Drow – one Phlugyarr, friend of the High Forest elves and good of heart. Also did we meet Captain Oleshan and some of his crew, notably Buckminster the massive Rahsemi Fisrt Mate, of the Skyship Laughing Skua. Grindelmann invited us to a more private chamber at the inn, where ‘Petula’ – who turned out to be a doppelganger – was brought and tied up. Grindelmann  proved more than he seemed, revealing himself as a Harper, along with Phlugyarr … among the last in this world. They were allies of Pendaster and, like him, sought to free the enigmatic ‘Old One’ to battle Shar (who had come to dominate this world by controlling the weakened Amaunator). Before I could delve more deeply into this – a sudden distress signal or vision came to the Harpers via their magical Pins … Erised was in dire need! A prisoner of orcs?

There was little time for thought or plans – my companions jumped to action and I decided to follow. We boarded the Laughing Skua mere minutes later and the Captain made all haste towards Erised’s location, which the Harpers could sense via their Harper Pins. I cast Darkvision and Feather Fall on my companions and we leapt from the ship and drifted down to the forest below, to ambush a column of orcs we’d spotted from the air. The ambush was not particularly well executed, as a team we had much to learn, but it was an advantage and took first blood in the battle against a force of orc warriors and rangers, a great ogre, an orcish shaman, and a pair of orcish  fire-sorcerers. Shinzu and Liam took the brunt of the attack, and were nearly laid low before  the rest of us could deal with the sorcerers with cold magic and help. In the end we had the mastery, bloodied but with no losses, and we freed Erised.

We flew back up to the skyship and returned to Silverymoon immediately. I was particularly interested in interrogating our doppelganger prisoner, for I dislike unsolved mysteries. We used Detect Thoughts and all the tactics we could, and ultimately were satisfied we had the truth from her. She was not evil, it seemed, but rather had taken the real Petula’s place in order to spy on the slavers. The slavers were Shadovarr, using orcs as pawns, and their aim was profit. The doppelganger worked for the Ratcatcher’s Guild, a spy network of beggars opposing the Shadovaar. She did not know who killed the real Petula, the corpse we’d walked by.

We were short on supplies and I needed components for my Art and so we went to the Market, Veiled as commoners. I was able to find some magical inks for scribing, but I could see Arnold, Amra,  and Liam from the corner of my eye and it looked like they were about to get into mischief… groaning inwardly I watched Arnold and Amra  staring with open hatred at ‘Tom the Slaver’ , a disgusting man who was hawking his flesh-trade – slaves of half-orc race it appeared. Even worse, I then witnessed Liam gazing with open interest at a Zhentarim soldier escorting a Sharran priest. The Zhent bore a beautiful kukri on his back and Liam was eyeing it with a savage lust. That fellow was crude, but I was glad to have him on my side. Arnold also spotted Liam’s look, and I could tell the larcenous demi-human was seriously considering stealing from this obviously capable warrior in the open market. Gladly, a look of resignation crossed Arnold’s features and he shrugged and allowed the Sharran priest and his bodyguard to leave unmolested.

At Pendaster’s lair, we conferred as a party as to our next action and it was decided that we should infiltrate the slavers’ building, kill the slavers and free the slaves. I was not particularly interested, but I knew we needed more seasoning as a team before confronting Memnon so I agreed. This was the first in a series of very noble  ‘down with slavery!’ side-quests that nearly spelled disaster for the team’s primary objective, which as I saw it was to reset Time.

Sneaking into the slaver compound after dark, we were ambushed by a huge creature of shadow, which I identified from an old Netherese tome as a Sharran Shadowspawn,  a terrible monster that crushed and grappled with horrid tentacles and nearly killed two if our number before being laid low by sharp blades, skiprocks, and acid spells. We killed the thing, wondering if this could be the transformed Slaver Tom (for the building was empty), but the city was roused and we needed to flee before the Shadovaar captured us! We went down the hole created by the acidic ball that killed the Shadowspawn, and sent Amra’s summoned Bulette out into the city to wreak havoc and perhaps take the blame for the destruction.

That part, of course, you already know—I’m not sure what possessed me to copy it out, other than an exercise in penmanship. Anyways, the adventure continues:

 Down below, we came upon the city’s old sewer tunnels, and I was horribly sickened by the wretched stench – a debilitating state that would persist long minutes until we finally left these warrens. Amra took the form of a Water Elemental to scout ahead and I summoned smaller creatures of that kind to aid him, finally taking that form myself for a time. We were not alone down here, though: the place was infested with undead ghouls, whom we could see or hear in the shadows beyond locked grates. Trying to find a way out, we had to press forth into the ghouls’ demesne. Where possible the party walked on the narrow ledges rather than entering the sickening water, but this was not always possible. We came into conflict with ghouls and managed to  destroy them with the help of Halt Undead, Arnold’s skiprocks, Shizu’s fists, and Liam’s kukri. Proceeding further Amra spotted a Green Slime. Phlugyarr burned the thing with a burst of electrical magic, but this unfortunately damaged several of us who were in the water. From that point forth, Amra never quite trusted the drow! I summoned Lantern Archons to finish it.

Further in we battle a horde of ghouls and their huge leader, a massive ghoul over 12 feet tall. Attempting to hold a Wall of Force spell for the perfect moment to cut-off our enemies, I was clawed and paralyzed by the unearthly speed of charging ghouls and had to sit and watch the awful spectacle helplessly for a few seconds. Thankfully my companions engaged the ghouls so I could recover. But moments later Liam was paralyzed, falling into the putrid water and beginning to drown! Shinzu heroically jumped-in and saved him, dragging his paralyzed form up as myself and Phlugyarr held the ghouls in the tunnel at bay. Up ahead, Amra and Arnold were engaged with the huge ghoul leader. When we had cleared the tunnel, the mages joined the fray and Phlugyarr melted the ghouls with Holy Smite and acid while Amra’s summoned Water Elemental tore undead limb from limb. Amra was then paralyzed but the battle was almost over, and my summoned Earth Elemental helped finish our immediate foes. But to our horror, the ghouls slowly began to spontaneously reanimate! We learned that cutting off their heads was the answer, and set about the task.

Pursued by fresh undead in our quest to find egress, I cast a Wall of Acid to hold back our foes and give Phlugyarr time to cast Knock and open the grate before us. It was about this time that we noticed that something was wrong with Liam. Emerging from paralysis, he began muttering about hunger, hunger for meat. Amra cast Remove Disease but was not sure if that resulted in a cure.  Indeed it had not, for somewhat further down the tunnels, the slavering, ghoul-mad Liam sliced his kukri into the back of my knee! I will feel that stroke on humid days for the rest of my life. Needless to say I was shocked, and Vanished before the killing machine could finish me. The party managed to get Liam under control while also being assaulted by yet more ghouls – ably laid low by Phlugyarr’s Dragon Breath as well as Shinzu, Amra, and Arnold. Liam seemed to reassert control of himself and attacked the ghouls with vigour now. Ultimately, we fought our way, passed a grate which we locked behind us, entering another sewer tunnel, this one with an empty boat moored at the ledge and filled with open manacles. Stairs led up into darkness at the end of the tunnel, and having no choice we ascended cautiously …

… Into a strange basement, with a sleeping Shadovaar guard in a chair in the corner. Arnold’s hatred of slavers showed on his childlike visage as he slit the guard’s throat, making his sleep permanent. We must have taken too long inspecting the doors and debating our next move, for guards in the next room came to the door, knocking roughly when they found the door locked (by us). I tried a charade, telling them the “Ghouls are loose, don not enter!”, but I was never very good at that sort of thing. They pounded through the door and I slew the lot with a great Acid Ball. But that literally brought the house down on us, as we were attached by no less than a Vrock, two ghouls, a Sharran Cleric, and two Nabassu demons! In close quarters, in terrible tactical position, we were in mortal straits. In fact, when the Sharran Cleric cast Hold Person on me (which would have had me skewered by a Demon soon after) … I felt the paralytic effect take hold and whispered a silent inward prayer. I feel like some agency intervened on my behalf that day. An encouraging thought. We had to flee that basement, teleporting away (both I and Phlugyarr grabbing whom we could reach) with the paralyzed Arnold, with no time to pick up his mystical skiprock for we were surrounded by foes.

Nabassu

Yes, that’s correct—I dropped Uncle Reggie’s skiprock in what we later surmised was the Temple of Shar! I remain as vexed about that as a bunny in a box. However, Phlugyar undoubtedly saved my life, and for this I will be eternally grateful.

The party reunited at the Tall Halfling in Grindelmann’s private room, where Remove Curse was cast on Liam and we all hoped this ghoulish hunger was conquered for once and all. I must admit I have not fully trusted the crude, but frighteningly capable killer since. It was soon time to decide our next move, where I hoped to point the group to Anauroch and the Dragon Door. But I was outvoted and the party determined to again pursue the slavers – this time at the keep of a great band of orcs known to be a link in the Shadovaar slave trade. We made for the airship but we were ambushed by Shadovaar as well as the Zhentarim with the kukri and his Sharran Priest, as well as a mage. From that point we went from suspicion that our foes were using divinations to watch us, to virtual certitude that we were being scryed. The battle proved swift, for no sooner had I turned invisible (since our enemies were right next to me), and summoned a Wooly Rhino – that the beast had nothing to attack and I almost directed it to attack the Laughing Skua‘s crew. How can I be expected to know every crewman on that ship, anyway? More Shadovaar were coming, and the airship was lifting off, so we had to scramble to loot our fallen enemies. Liam got the Zhent’s kukri at last, and I used Telekinesis to grab up the mage’s body from the ships’ railing, pulling it up gently to the deck. Macabre, but effective …

airship

We travelled on our way towards the orc encampment. Although my hin hatred for slavers was motive enough for me, it should also be noted that we had been urged to this mission by the Harper Erised, whom we had rescued in the woods (twice, no less) earlier.

Alas, our journey would not be a smooth one, for we had travelled only a few hours when the Laughing Skua was beset by demons! Against all odds we vanquished them, destroying some and causing their Succubus leader to flee, but not before the ship was gravely damaged. It crashed into the forest below, although Phlugyar was able to cast Feather Fall upon us and so save the party from any injury.

We continued on warily, together with Captain Oleshan, the remnants of his crew, and Kymm (Grindelman’s adopted daughter, who we had taken with us because of threats to her life back in town). After a while we came across a clearing, in which was located a ramshackle hut. Outside, three hideous old women appeared to be muttering incantations around a boiling cauldron.

scary witches around cauldronThat didn’t look very promising. I crept closer, hiding behind a mossy boulder. Or it seemed to be a mossy boulder, at least until it started to move. Instead it was some sort of hideous scorpion!

I jumped to the side, and threw my skiprock at the hags before they could respond—dropping one.

The fight was a difficult one, for the scorpions were formidable and the hags were both surprisingly nimble for their old age and frequently invisible. Before we could kill the last of the scorpions, Amra’s tiger companion Shuiba lay mortally wounded. Before we could finish the last of the hags, it had taken Kymm hostage. Fortunately, Amra interceded, whisking her way by druidic cleverness and allowing us to finish off the final witch.

Inside the hags’ hut we found a fortune in gems, as well as some magical items. My companions seemed reluctant to compensate Oleshan and his crew for the inconvenience we had put them through, not to mention the loss of the livelihoods. I took it upon myself to do the right thing, and relocate the gems into their possession. Captain Oleshan seemed especially grateful, although my friends were less enthused when they eventually learned what I had done.

ShuibaWe held a modest funeral service for Shuiba, burying the big cat. By morning a mighty tree had grown where she had been placed—a remarkable thing, that filled all of us with awe at the power of the druid’s bond and the wonders of nature.

We also received an urgent message from Erised:

Large orc party has left.
The time is right to strike their stronghold.
Let us bring the fight to them!
What takes so long?

First, however, we were clearly in need of sleep. In my dreams, there came a message—an actual message, I was certain, from Tipwill’s old nemesis, Haleus D’Aemon, now perhaps the most powerful man in all Silverymoon. Uncle Reggie, so the message said, was still alive. D’Aemon had my skiprock too. He wanted to meet.

In the morning I expressed my frustrations to my companions:

May I just say that everyone and their poodle seems to know what we’re up to.

We’ve been getting more messages than a buxom barmaid with bells on. I’ve had one too, from Tip’s old school friend Haleus D’Aemon, promising me my Skiprock and telling me Uncle Reggie is still alive and in captivity

We’ve been released by demons, barely pursued, scryed, and followed by a shadowdancer. We have a plan to release an Old One which, so we’re told, will set the world right rather than devour it (fingers and toes crossed!). To date, however, nothing we have ever done has turned out right. 

I for one, propose we strike a blow at these orcs, do right by Captain Oleshan and his crew, then spend some time working out what is up and what is sidewards. After all, our prospects for successfully completing the quest that Shinzu and Tip wish us to complete are close to zero if we’re under constant surveillance, and at risk of demons gating in whenever we’re about to achieve something. We have no idea how united or divided are foes are, and what opportunities there might be for alliances of convenience….

We then set off the on foot for the Orc lair, leaving Kymm and the crew of the (former) Laughing Skua at the hut. As we approached the stronghold—fashioned from the crumbling ruins of an ancient castle—we met up with Erised, who had been keeping the enemy under watch. After a reconnaissance by Amra, we agreed on a plan of attack whereby I would invisibly scout the walls, while my friends would move by Dimension Door into the enemy’s keep and begin an immediate assault–hopefully taking them off-guard. The screams of someone being tortured and killed within added urgency to our actions.

640x292_5924_Forgotten_Castle_3d_fantasy_landscape_forest_castle_vue_trees_mountains_serene_picture_image_digital_art

At first our assault went as planned. Then, however, something frightened the usually unflappable Liam, and he fled from the fight in arcane panic. The unexpected departure of our formidable fighter left the rest of us at a disadvantage, and among the enemy was both a huge brute of an orc and several powerful spellcasters. At last, however, we defeated all those who stood above ground, and Liam returned—somewhat sheepishly, it seemed—just in time for us to press down into the network of orc tunnels that lay beneath this old castle.

orc-box-art_by_gamewallpaperz.blogspot.comHere, the fight went rather more smoothly for us, despite the appearance of yet another demon Vrock. Although I was badly wounded, we ended up forcing the few orc survivors to surrender. We also found here some twenty-six human female slaves, and two dozen babies and young half orcs bred for slavery. The brutal treatment they endured made my blood boil, and I was quite eager to slay the two orc spellcaster we had among our prisoners. Liam indicated, however, that he would be just as inclined to do it himself.

“Shit Brandyken… I can kill them.  They are wicked, and they deserve the death they have coming to them.  As for stopping you… I’m not the one that has stopped someone from carrying out what needed to be done.”

We found significant treasure in the lair, especially in a secret vault located by Amra, wherein we discovered a Philosopher’s Stone. We also discovered a Harper pin (among other items), something that would soon prove more contentious among our group than a magpie in a jewellery shop.

Universal_Magic_Circle_by_XyeeMuch more important still, Amra discovered a massive buried circular slab of the rare sky-metal horacalcum. It was not a natural deposit, but something that had been worked by hand and crafted with magic long ago. There was also no evidence the orcs knew it was here, buried beneath their caves.

Phlugyar’s study of Memnon and the Tesseract Mirror suggested, so he said, that that the latter was likely fashioned from highly polished horacalcum—much like this one—and then enchanted with magics developed by the Netherese Archmages Ioulaum and Karsus (neither of whom I had ever heard of, but then mages are hardly my speciality). Tipwill and Phlugyar also believed that the ancient tales of the Iquar’Tel’Quessir, or creator races, in particular the shapeshifting-sauroid Sarrukh, fitted with some fossilized remains of humanoid and dinosaur bones that we found nearby. Phlugyar told us that the Sarrukh Isstosseffifil empire—I think that’s how it’s pronounced—stood in this area some 36-37,000 years ago. The Sarrukh were the creators of the first stable portals on Toril. Horacalcum is apparently known to bend or warp time, and could be used as a portal component.

Phlugyar looked at us all with excitement. “This mass of Horacalcum could be the portal to end all portals, or create myriad other portals. Given what we know about the Tesseract Mirror and its effects, extrapolating for size and mass… if this were a functioning portal, then it could be used to go anywhen in reality. That is, anywhere and anytime in all of reality.”

He paused for emphasis.”If so, this would be the most dangerous weapon, or most powerful tool across all of the planes of existence….”

While our mages were understandably excited, my own heart sank. Could we be trusted with such power? Or even such knowledge of such power? Since our arrival in this time we had been followed, scryed, pursued, spied upon, and twice had our minds read. Demons had sought to take control of souls. What happened if we let loose into the world any knowledge of this place?

20060410192354!Harpers_symbolWhich brings us back the Harper pin. Such a pin could, I knew, shield one’s thoughts from magical prying. Remembering only too well how easily a mindflayer had once rifled through my own thoughts, it seemed imperative that one of us—particularly me—should wear it. I therefore asked if I might have it.

At this point Erised, who had been absent from most of the hard fighting, but who had now joined us below, spoke up. “Only a body fa swears tae uphauld th’ code shoods wear a Harper pin. as thaur ur few ay ye, it woods be up tae existin’ harpers tae determine fa wears a Harper pin. it is less a pin, an’ mair a standard ay brotherhuid, an’ an oath.”

Phlugyar too seemed a bit taken aback by my request.”I swore that very oath under a Moon lit sky in Nordahaeril many, many, years ago. Harpers have to earn that pin, and can be awarded it later on if merited, after years of loyal service or after heroic deeds in the name of the Harp.”

He turned to converse with the dwarf, who said to him “As tae membership, baith arnauld an’ Amra woods be braw beneficiaries ay sic’ an honorific, an’ th’ pin. If they baith want th’ pin, ‘en Ah say we ask them a simple question. Of aw th’ stinkin’ orc prisoners haur, fa shoods we kill first? Lit th’ wee jimmies, answer ‘at, ‘en we’ll see who’s got th’ mettle tae be a Harper.”

I suspected I knew what answer he wanted. But I also believed that the two spellcasters among the orcs were both guilty of heinous crimes, and a continuing threat to our efforts to rescue these slaves. Without hesitation I replied “I would kill them both for their crimes.”

This, as I suspected, was not the right answer—nor was Amra’s reply, which was in a similar vein. After a few minutes of careful deliberation, Erised and Phlugyar stepped forward .

“No one shall earn the pin today. Harpers will fight villainy and wickedness wherever they find it but do not condone murder, especially foes that have surrendered and are subdued with no manner to defend themselves. This would make us no better than the Shadovar themselves.  Of both answers, Amra’s shows the most promise, but we will need more time to be certain of his  measure.”

Dwarf_MageWith that Erised, placed the pin in his pocket.

It was my turn now to be taken aback. I had not applied to join the Harpers, although I had high regard for the organization. I simply wanted to wear a dusty old pin that might, if it could help preserve the momentous information we now knew, save everyone and everything in the known universe. Those were the odds and the stakes. And yet these Harpers, out of some misguided pride, were prepared to risk everything, and instead keep the pin useless and unused amid the lint of an elderly dwarf’s pocket. As Aunt Petunia used to say, in a storm ’tis much better to be wearing some britches than none at all.

Apparently Harpers could lie and cheat, if a mission required it. They could even lead a young halfling to believe his beloved uncle had been murdered. However, they couldn’t let an outsider wear their pin, even if uncountable lives stood in the balance.

I knew what I had to do—to relocate that pin to where it might be of better use. I found Amra talking with the eldest of the ex-slaves as he nestled a half-orc baby in his huge arms. His smile slowly dissipated as I told him of my intention.

“I will not stop you but I want nothing to do with it. This idea is even worse then your ‘gifting’ of items that belonged to others my friend.”

“I scratched that off the treasure ledger in front of everyone!” I replied. “Besides, it was our fault that he lost his ship.”

“Enough!” Arma said loudly. “I do not disagree in the act of charity…just the way you went about it.”

Erisednote“As Aunt Petunia always said, someone’s lost item is always another’s good fortune…” I said to him as I left.

I quietly scrawled out an IOU of sorts, and then sought to furtively swap it for the pin in Erised’s pocket. I was a little out of practice, however, and Erised detected my attempt.

He stared at me with a fierce anger in his eyes. I feared for a moment he would cast at me, and I prepared to jump aside.

Then he vanished in a flash of bright light.

As it turned out, I had underestimated the injured pride of the dwarf, and his attachment to this long-lost piece of metal. Thereafter the Harpers (save Phlugyar, of course) cut off all cooperation with us, angered by what they saw as my betrayal.

It was not me who had betrayed anything, however—at best, I had been guilty of putting the mission first.

As it also turned out, Phlugyar had the pin, not Erised. He would later bestow it upon Amra as the druid was admitted to the ranks of the Harpers himself. He certainly will make a fine addition to their number. As for me, it is clear that I’m far too practically-minded and too little bound by rules to join their organization. Still, I wish them well.

With this, we decided to return by foot to the hag hut, with the freed slaves. Before leaving, we blocked the passages to the lair, trusting that it would take the orc prisoners a few day or two to dig themselves out.

At Shuiba’s grove there had been a transformation. A virtual fortress wall of thorn surrounded the grove now, whose stagnant pools had transformed into bubbling springs of crystal water. A rainbow of flowers bloomed in the light of a thousand torchbugs whose wings hummed in the canopy of fruit laden trees that formed an impenetrable ceiling of lush, green leaves.

Enchanted-forest-hut-wallpaper

Small forest creatures frolicked in the lush grass and wildflowers that blanketed the ground, as butterflies took flight, flitting from one bunch of flowers to the next, drinking their sweet nectar. A grandiose hive dripped sweet honey from above, into a hollow bowl-like stone. The clear, golden liquid was the gathering spot to a trip of young rabbits who licked at the sweet confection that overflowed the natural basin.

The hut, too, was transformed. Ratty and unkempt, before, the hut seemed, now, to be made of living trees. As though in a few scant days trees had grown around the old structure, adding to it. Tree hollows appeared as windows into the warm glow of the hut, beyond. Some of these glowing hollows extended some 20 feet from the ground, as if the hut had grown in height, as well.

Kymm had changed as well–in place of the young red-haired girl we had known, there was now an athletic-looking elf maiden. She said that this was her true form, and the waif had been but an image or vessel. I rather wondered if this was yet another example of time and space overlapping.

The freed slaves decided to stay in this place, along with Kymm and even a few of Oleshan’s crew. As for us, we teleported back to the sanctum to prepare for the next phase of our adventure, whatever that might be.

But what was that to be? Amra was anxious to go to the aid of the elves, who were now coming under assault by the main orc forces. Tip, Phlugyar, and Shinzu were equally anxious to continue our mission.

I listened to Phlugyar once more explain about portals, my head spinning. Arcane magicks—let alone time and space and all reality—are not exactly my area of expertise. Liam looked even more confused than I.

“I still want to know more about this Old One. That Shar imprisoned it, and Memnon, does make them potential allies…. but what then? If they are creatures of fire, what’s to say they don’t cleanse this world of all life with flame once they’ve defeated Shar, much as Shar forced upon us endless shadow? If it takes an Old One to defeat Shar, what does it take to defeat an Old One?”

“We hin have a saying: ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend, until such point as my enemy is gone, then the enemy of my enemy is just as likely to be my enemy too’…”

47c94210691221aI looked at Shinzu quizzically. “You’ve said little, my monkish friend. What do you think of all this? I’m thinking you have another plan at work here.” Pendaster had sent us an angry message, furious at my actions, and warned that our party had been compromised. I assume my friends thought it might be me, or Liam. I wondered, however, what our quiet monkling was up to.

She replied in a way that hardly set my concerns at rest, “”I have said little, because I have little to say.  It is an act of baseless pride to presume to understand these affairs more deeply than my master, who sent me.  Unlike you others, I trust the motivations and wisdom of that command, but realize that I alone am unlikely to succeed in the task.”

As for Liam, he was ready to support anything that involved slaying foes.

I briefly proposed to meet Haleus D’Aemon, alone, and see what I could determine of his plans and interest in us. Evidence at the Orc lair had tied him to the kidnapping and slavery, but we all suspected his role and ambitions were much greater than this. My companions, probably wisely, insisted this was far too dangerous. Neither of our mages, moreover, was able to screen within my mind the dangerous knowledge I now possessed.

In the end, I too voted to head east, back to the desert of Anauroch and towards Memnon’s tomb. I was still deeply concerned about Memnon and the Old One, and what releasing them might do. However, it did seem wise to remove ourselves from Silverymoon and the surrounding area, where our knowledge of the buried portal seemed most likely to fall into the wrong hands…Alien-Desert

 

 

 

 

 

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