Here Be Dragons

The Dragons Return

Flint critically injures Ashmere with two arrows to the heart. Chini curses the Gladiator, and Lydia and Kurshk quickly finish him off. Ashmere’s black cape shimmers on his dead body, and seems to split in front of our eyes, as if we are seeing double. The cape is just the right size for Lydia, who believes the cape creates an image of the wearer that causes enemies to attack the image and miss the real wearer. She will need time to study and become accustomed to it. First we must catch up with Sultana before she kills Jasnah. We are joined by Zasheir, whose protection barrier is no longer needed for the elves and Pensiar.

We hurry forth and see Sultana stop up ahead, unexpectedly. She is staring into the shattered remnants of a building, her eyes wide. Then she takes off again towards the Council District, leaving behind whatever she had seen. We rush forward to find Leucis, in a jail cell which is still intact. He begs us to take him with us, promising to use his warlock powers to help stop Sultana. Lydia senses his sincerity and we free him. Leucis says that Sultana is clearly weakened by our congregated efforts against her and that she is vulnerable.

We follow Sultana’s wake of destruction and emerge into the Council District, in time to see her leap on top of the Council Building. She brings a fireball down on the roof, shattering a hole in it, which she jumps through. We follow and see chaos and corpses everywhere. Sultana is laying waste to everyone in the vicinity, trying to destroy the Council.

In the chambers, we witness Sparklegem holding the line while Mialee is helping Jasnah escape down the stairs. We enter the fray and receive valuable assistance from Sparkle, Mialee, Igor, Zasheir, Yevelda and Leucis. Chini casts powerful spells to wear down Sultana’s resistance, as we direct all our fury at Sultana. She is a frightening foe, and she sets on fire large portions of the chamber as we try to defeat her. On and on we battle, as Sultana viciously bites and claws us between her infernal breath attacks. But we gradual wear her down, and Cidrock delivers the final, lethal blows.

Before slumping to the ground, Sultana gasps out her final words, “You think you’ve won. But you had already lost before I ever came to this city. I had hoped to see their majesty with my own eyes. But I will sacrifice myself to right the wrong that my kind has suffered.”

The ground begins to shake. We look up through the broken ceiling, into the dusk sky. A giant gash has been torn out of the sky, through which we see only twilight. Abruptly we find ourselves in the city of shadows. The blind prophetess sits in the fountain, shivering. Her eyeless gaze snaps to us and she points upwards. Above, there is a huge gash in the sky. Swarms of dragons are roaring triumphantly as they depart through the gash, leaving the shadow world behind.

The prophetess say, “Sultana slaughtered the descendants of the immortal races to this realm, to release the dragons. Elves were her preferred choice, the most populous creatures she could focus on. But her own death returns the last of the bloodline of the dragons to this realm. Such power released by her death was more than enough to free her kin.”

As this awful truth enters our consciousness, she continues, “You will not be able to visit this world in spirit form again. When the dragons escape, the gash will close, as will the link that Bahamut formed between you and this world. The dragons come. Heed my advice… and run.”

Our vision snaps back to the council chambers, and we rush to Sultana’s body, relieving her of several magic items. Above us we see the multitude of dragons swarming in through the gash, shrieking in triumph. One voice booms out above all – it is Indomitable’s. “Today is your day of reckoning, mortals. Today you pay in blood for the crime committed against my ancestors!” he thunders, above the screams of the citizens we hear outside the chamber.

The dragons have returned.

DUN, DUN, DUN

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Sultana Becomes a Desperate Foe!

While Althaea ferociously battles hand to hand with Sultana to avenge the death of her daughter, the rest of us find ourselves nearly surrounded by a ravening pack of vile, dragonclaw cultists! Lydia thinks swiftly and casts a powerful, stinking cloud that annihilates over a dozen of them. Flint falls back, casts a swarm of magical wasps in Sultana’s face to give Althea an edge, and vanishes. Cidrock, Kurshk, Igor and Yevelda become locked in hand to hand combat with cultists. Chini casts powerful magic to disrupt the cultists and Lydia repeatedly heals her wounded comrades. Flint reappears to cast a spike growth around several cultists and to pick off others one by one.

The battle is protracted. Eventually we destroy all the cultists. Althaea manages to get close enough to sever one of Sultanas gilded wings by literally throwing herself on Sultana’s sword. Sultana, screaming in pain, escapes Althaea’s fury and manages to take off towards the Council Chambers of Baldur’s Gate. Although several of us suffer grave wounds, and Althea has almost breathed her last, our combined healing powers manage to save us, and we are able to snatch a brief respite before hurrying after Sultana.

We have barely left the scene of our battle, when several cultists move out of adjacent buildings to block our progress. We see two mages on the rooftops, and a burly gladiator in front of us. One of Sultana’s zombie elf lieutenants emerges from a building behind us, wearing a dark-black cape that seems to suck the light out of the air. We have trouble tracking him as he moves, almost as if we are seeing double.

Flint falls back and vanishes, to begin picking off the mages on the rooftops. Chini entraps the zombie elf named Ashmere in a Magic Circle. One of the mages casts a cone of cold around the rest of us, damaging Cid who has foregone his rock shape. Cid responds by casting a powerful, blinding sunbeam into the faces of the two mages, who become incapacitated. With additional piercing wounds from Flint’s arrows and another blinding, damaging sunbeam blast from Cid, the mages are swiftly slain. The zombie Ashmere transforms into a tiny bat and flies over the boundary of the magic circle, then regains his zombie form. Although he is unable to regenerate due to our magic, Lydia’s fireballs have not killed him, and he remains oddly difficult to hit. Though seriously wounded, Ashmere remains a dangerous foe. The Gladiator is at full strength and continues his relentless attack. But these two enemies are now seriously outnumbered, and we must defeat them in order to reach Jasnah and the Council before they are destroyed by Sultana!

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Battling Sultana!

Chinny and Kurshk arrive in Baldur’s Gate. Occasionally they see arrows shoot up towards the form of Sultana, but they do not seem to have much impact. The arrows that miss fall back down, adding to the chaos below.
Chinny and Kurshk can see a band of orcs, led by Yevelda, attempting to help but making the citizens of Baldurs’ gate nervous.
Igor floats above the water, telepathing his intention to help. Some of the arrows from the guards are aimed at him, however.
They can also see Zasheir, who has erected a glowing barrier which is providing shelter to some men and women, and a large number of elves. Some citizens are clamoring for entry into the barrier, exclaiming that the elves should get kicked out to make room for them.
Sultana is flying above the city, raining fireballs down on it.
Chinny asks Igor if he can carry Kurshk up to Sultana. Igor says he can, and Kurshk grabs Igor’s eyestalk with one arm, keeping the other on the hilt of his sword.
Igor flies towards Sultana, and elves below scream as they watch.
Sultana fires a fireball straight at Igor, missing..
Kurshk manages to hit Sultana, 500 feet up in the air. Annoyed, Sultana swipes at him and the eyestalk Kurshk is holding on to is severed. Kurshk starts falling towards the ground
With a burst of speed, Igor zooms down and snatches Kurshk out of the sky.
The guards have stopped shooting at Igor, realizing he is on their side.
Yevelda tells Chinny they need to manage the chaos on the ground and wondering when his friends will arrive. She suggests he try to help get some of the elves to safety while waiting for the others to arrive.

Sultana Pyre lobs a fireball straight towards Kurshk. The golden wings erupt from his gauntlet, and the fireball dissipates.

Meanwhile, we have opened a portal to the outskirts of Baldur’s Gate.
Sparklegem is hurrying across the grass towards us , crying “Sultana is attacking Baldur’s Gate! She’s gotten all of the undercover cultists to rise up and cause chaos in the city!”

Then she asks, “Where’s Wellby?”

Lydia walks up to Sparkle and puts a hand on her arm, humming a song meant to calm, as she prepares to explain to her what has happened. She tells her, “Sylvie, something has happened to Wellby. He is alive, don’t worry, but…he has been…transformed.”

Whimsy Tosscobble greets her uncertainly.

Sylvie exclaims, “ This is a joke. right?”

Flint explains that Wellby is a hero, but Sylvie starts sobbing. She vows to kill Sultana, and rushes off. As we chase into the city after her we are ambushed by some Cultists.

The mages in each of the groups are aiming fireballs at our faces. Chinny is most severely hit, the rest of us taking minor damage except for Flint.

We battle the Cultists, in two separate fights, slowly killing them as their fear of us grows.
Chinny goes to the start of the bridge and finally sees the rest of us fighting against some cultists.

We are all reunited after defeating all the Cultists. Lydia heals Chinny from a fireball to the face.

Baldur’s Gate is in chaos. In the skies above, we can see Sultana in dragon form, raining fire down on the hapless citizens. Her voice booms out, arcanely augmented to carry throughout the city.

She proclaims: “This retribution lasts only as long as you continue to defy us. Do not let the elves harbor within your city. Send them out, and this assault will end!”

But she clearly seems fatigued, occasionally landing on houses to catch her breath, before launching off to rain more fireballs on the city.

In the streets below, cultists face off against orcs and humans. Men and women dart into hiding to avoid the rain of fire from above.

We see Zasheir, and the glowing barrier he has erected. We see Yevelda, directing some of the orcs, and tracking Sultana’s location.

We discuss how we can reach Sultana, who continues to rain fireballs down from high above. Fatigued, Sultana lands a long distance off, gathering her strength. She takes off again, and starts raining more fireballs on the citizens.

Yevelda just now notices us and calls us over, saying “Why didn’t you tell me you had returned? Sultana keeps landing to catch her breath. We will need to catch her during one of these moments.  I have been tracking her movements. Her landing choices are not as random as they seem. She is flying in a pattern. She drops several fireballs near her location to clear out resistance, then lands near there. I think she will land in the northwest sector, over there next.”

True to her prediction, a minute later Sultana sends fireballs into that sector and lands for a few minutes, then takes back to the skies.

Flint asks,  "What are her vulnerabilities, do you think?"

Yevelda replies,  "She is powerful, but she is still mortal. Or close to it. She is getting tired, and her magic is nearly expended."

Althaea Halflight eyes Sultana, observing the pattern that Yevelda mentioned. Sultana spots something that draws her attention. She moves in fairly close to the ground and launches a fireball at an area we cannot see, but we can hear the screams from where we stand.

Abruptly we find yourselves in the city of shadows, our heads spinning from the abrupt change. A strange discordant sound echoes in our ears.

A blind prophetess sits in the fountain, shivering from the cold, her dress soaked. Her eyeless gaze snaps to us as we appear before her. She tells us, “The barrier is weakening. You come here even when you are awake. There is not much time left. You must hurry, or your world is doomed. Stop Sul…”

And then our vision abruptly snaps back to the battlefield, where we notice that Althaea has left us, and is running towards a building in the distance. Several fireballs blanket the area in front of Althaea, and Sultana lands on a nearby building.

Althaea Halflight leaps onto the building and charges at Sultana.

Yevelda shouts,  "The cultists are coming! Prepare yourselves!"

True to her prediction, a large number of cultists come swarming out of the adjacent streets, to clear out all resistance!

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Baldur's Gate Becomes the Nexus!

The battle is on! It is us against Sultana. We fight our hardest, hoping to buy enough time for the elves to escape through the portal to Baldur’s Gate. Flint vanishes and strikes Sultana multiple times with his Dragonsbane arrows, Chinicum casts his strongest spells and blasts her with his Eldritch powers, Kurshk rages and smashes her with his Dragonsbane weapon and CidRock bludgeons her. Lydia finds Sultana almost impervious to her magical insults, so she turns to healing the burns of her comrades, while Althaea provides protection to those nearest her.

In the midst of the battle we abruptly find ourselves momentarily in the City of Shadows, our heads spinning from the abrupt change. A strange discordant sound echoes in our ears, and we see a blind woman sitting in a fountain, shivering from the cold, her dress soaked through. Her eyeless gaze snaps to us and she says, “They are coming.”

Our vision snaps back to the battlefield and we continue to battle Sultana. On and on we fight. But Sultana is stronger than we are. She expresses regret that she must destroy us, as we are worthy opponents. Over and over again she uses her legendary resistance against our attacks and blasts us with her fire in its myriad deadly forms, taking to the air to deliver her final blows. Ultimately we are all overcome, except for Cid, who temporarily burrows underground. A gust of wind blows debris around our stricken bodies as Sultana flaps her wings and settles back to the ground. She begins to morph back into her half-human form and conjures a dark orb of energy that seems to suck the light out of the sky. “ I wish I could give you the respect you deserve, and let you live,” she says. “I made that mistake once, and I will not make it again. Die well, champions.”

We see the orb begin to grow, darkening the sky. Sultana Pyre reaches back to throw the orb, when Wellby, who has finally reemerged from the lake, throws himself at Sultana, catching her arm with a cry of defiance. The orb explodes in Sultana’s hand, and she lets out a startled scream as the skin of her arm starts to wither and rot. She stares at her decaying arm in shock, then with her good arm swiftly strikes down Wellby, who falls completely lifeless to the ground.

Sultana sees the fog created by Flint dissipate as Szindaer closes the portal to Baldur’s Gate, his task complete. He moves to assist us as we struggle to our feet. Sultana cries,“ You have only secured the fate of the elves, and those you love! You cannot stop this. The dragons are coming!” Swiftly she rips open a portal through which we can see the city of Baldur’s Gate. Sultana strides through, closing the portal behind her.

Cid turns his attention to our dead friend Wellby. Not content to let Flint bury him, he instead begins to cast a very powerful reincarnation spell which will form a new adult body for Wellby and will call his soul to enter.

We are in a hurry to get to Baldur’s Gate, but Szindaer is exhausted from his efforts, and must rest before he can create another portal. Suddenly the communication device that Flint has been carrying sputters to life. We see Sultana’s form and hear her wicked voice: “Today is the day of judgement! All those who obey the Cult of the Dragon, rise up. No longer will you remain hidden in the shadows. Sow chaos. Let all within the city of Baldur’s Gate fear you. Do not let the elves seek safe haven within the city. Your actions today will dictate the success of our efforts. Before the sun has set, the dragons will return to the world of men!” Her form vanishes and disc goes silent.

Flint immediately opens a channel of communication to Zasheir, who desperately urges us to return to Baldur’s Gate immediately. We hear the sounds of battle, screams of pain, and the roars of fire in the background.

We rapidly discuss among ourselves the quickest way to reach Baldur’s Gate. Waiting for Szindaer still seems to be the quickest option, except that Chinicum has a trick up his sleeve — an extremely powerful spell to create a Dimension Door through which he and one other can travel. Quickly, he takes Kurshk and vanishes.

Meanwhile Cid has completed his reincarnation spell, and it is successful, but sadly, Wellby returns to life as a female elf. His marriage to Sylvie is now very much in question, but his enduring love for her is not.

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Sultana!!!

We have met with the Elves and have developed a battle plan.
We are vouched for and allowed in the Elven forest, but the Surrian armies are not welcome in the forest.
Artemis will evacuate to Baldur’s Gate, along with any other cells she can convince.
Szindaer will make a portal to Baldur’s Gate.
The gathering of elves will draw Sultana, and we will attempt to kill her.
Artemis states “I suppose we can evacuate, though it pains me greatly to do so.”
Flint remarks that it is better than dying and feeding Sultana’s evil scheme and asks how we will draw the elves.
Artemis replies “ I make no promises. Those I can convince will come. Others will not want to abandon the forest..”
Flint asks if we can devise a sneak attack on Sultana, but Althaea says that the problem has always been to find her and pin her down.

We discuss how to draw her to a gathering of the elves without being annihilated as has happened to other Elven gatherings. Artemis leaves to gather the elves, giving us two days to prepare for their protection when they arrive.

Flint proposes casting multiple fog banks, one to enshroud a portal for evacuating those elves who are unable to defend themselves, with others as decoy fog banks. Szindaer suggests we set up guide posts ahead of time so that even those in the fog banks can easily make their way to the portal.

We know that Thia is half Red Dragon, and that she has incinerated entire gatherings by casting fireballs at them. We develop a plan to use up her legendary resistance by forcing her to defend against powerful magic.

Artemis returns and makes her report:
“ I was more successful than I hoped. Nearly 80% of our brethren are joining us. They have been told to arrive in two hours. We should be ready to go then.” The cells begin to arrive. The vulnerable start leaving through the portal. This evacuation has been going on for 10 minutes when we hear a sound.

Sultana’s elven forces have started to arrive. Their features are elongated and wrinkled compared to normal elves.

The elves begin to engage the zombie-elves. Cedric and Winnie are the zombie lieutenants. Wherever they move, Elvish solders begin to die. Our vision goes black.

Abruptly we find ourselves in the city of shadows, our heads spinning from the abrupt change. A strange discordant sound echoes in our ears, drowning all other sound out.
A blind woman sits in the fountain, shivering from the cold, her dress soaked through. She mouths words we cannot hear…And then our vision snaps back to the battlefield, where elves are dying from the blades of Cedric and Winnie, and Althaea is talking to us urgently.

We engage with Cedric and Winnie, supporting the elves in their battle as the vulnerable ones continue their escape. Eventually and with great effort we succeed in killing Cedric! Lydia casts the killing blow and does a victory dance. We then slay Winnie, with Kurshk striking the killing blow this time.

A squad of Sultana’s forces parts, and a slender, imperious elven woman emerges. She is in the middle of a battlefield, yet there is no blood or dust that mars her perfect outfit and features. It is Thia. When she sees us, she drops the image of Thia, slowly melding into Sultana.

Her honor guard start slamming their spears against their shields in a steady rhythm. Several of them start chanting to the rhythm of the beats: “Sultana. Sultana. Sultana.”
The hair on her head melds into dragon scales, and her outfit hardens into a set of plate mail of the darkest black.

Her guards continue to chant. “Sultana. Sultana. Sultana.”
Her face changes almost imperceptibly. Her features remain perfect and flawless, but they somehow seem to bestow a gravity and presence, her eyes convey a sense of ancient knowledge. Sultana Pyre, last of the bloodline of the dragons, stands before us. More beautiful than our fondest memory, more regal than the grandest queen, and more deadly than a pit of vipers.

Sultana speaks: “Whenever there is trouble, I am certain to find you. Tell me, did my pathetic general plead for his life before you crushed his malformed skull?”
Althaea’s gaze is murderous, and we can see her features becoming faintly wolf-like. However, she seems to be controlling herself. Flint has made himself invisible, hiding amongst the trees, but he is easily seen by Sultana. She greets him, saying “Wherever there’s trouble, there you are. I assume you are not rational enough to leave the elves to their fate. They need not concern you.”

She and Flint engage in a bit of philosophical discussion. Sultana speaks to Flint, asking rhetorically, “Who gets to decide who lives or dies? If I could achieve my goals without shedding a drop of blood, I would do so. Centuries of tireless dedication have merely proven to me the futility of all other paths…You presume to judge me, but I know your heart. You kill goblins to save humans, you kill cultists to save your family, and you would kill an innocent to save your love. Yes, I know of your precious Pensiar.”

Suddenly with a cry, one of our companions throws themselves at Sultana, startling her.
To our surprise, it is not Althaea, who has still maintained control over her emotions. Instead, it is Wellby. Sultana swats the halfling aside, and he goes tumbling into the lake.

Sultana states: “Enough. There is only one way this ends.”

To be continued!!!

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A Plan is Devised to Save Elves and Battle Thia

Chini kills Bareris. We go back to the council chamber and Lydia confronts So-Kehur, accusing him of being a traitor, but he remains on the Cabal. Lydia is nominated to the Cabal and accepts.

Szindaer explains he formed the Cabal for two reasons but only explains the “important” one:
The future of this world rests on a knife’s edge. The five of us are positioned exactly at the nexus of a power struggle to stop Sultana in her tracks. Shavia has warned that if we do not act now the elves will cease to be. Chinicum and Cid are the linchpins, the only ones the elves might listen to.

The Cabal votes and decides 11 to 1 (Ramas casting the only nay vote) that we (Chinicum, Lydia, Cid, and our friends) will go to the Elves and try to convince them to accept our help and to stop Sultana at any cost.

We go back to the inn to get a good night’s rest. While we sleep, we find ourselves back in the shadowy twilight city. There is now a huge gash in the sky with normal light shining through and many dragons flying around it.

Bahamut explains that Sultana is targeting a weakness in the barrier that keeps the dragons in, by feeding the twilight world with the deaths of “creatures of immortal descent” (elves) whose souls are redirected here.

(Apparently Bareris was trying to redirect the souls yet again, to himself, so that he could grow more powerful.)

When enough elves die, the dragons will pour out of the wound, into our world. Then the wound will reseal, and again trapping the citizens in the twilight world (including Bahamut and the 4 aspects). The dragons that escape will not be the dragons that once existed in our world because they have been corrupted by the twilight.

We ask Bahamut many questions and propose different ideas, but Bahamut counsels us, “Your focus should be on stopping Sultana.” We then awake.

Szindaer suggests that he portal a few of us to Baldur’s Gate to inform the Council of what is happening. We decide to send Sparkle, Pensiar, Igor, and Mialee to Baldur’s Gate. Since Wellby and Sparkle are sad to be separated, Wellby proposes to Sparkle and she agrees to marry him. He gives her an engagement ring to tide her over until they are reunited.

Szindaer then opens another portal, this one leading to the outskirts of a large forest, where a strike force of elves is believed to be hiding. He joins us in stepping through. Flint is unable to divine where the elves are, but Cid successfully transforms himself into a bird and soars above the forest. He locates a band of elves at a distance, and directs us in the proper direction.

After an hour on the trail, we encounter elven scouts. One of them recognizes Cid as a person to be trusted. We are able to persuade the scouts that we have the same enemy, and they lead us to the elves’ strike force, led by an elf named Artemis who is assisted by her sister, who is none other than our dear friend Althea!

We have a very long discussion with the elves, sharing what we know about Thia and learning what we can from Artemis and Althea. After a great deal of brainstorming we all agree upon a plan. We will draw Thia to us by having a large gathering of the elves, who will come to a portal that Szindaer will create for them to escape to Baldur’s Gate. Any elves that remain or are left behind will assist us in the battle against Thia.

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One Enemy After Another!

With Chini freed from Bareris’ will (we hope!), it is time to turn our attention to “Lady Katrina,” the evil Black Onyx dragon. We make careful plans, involving crashing Katrina’s soiree (where Lydia will be performing) and responding to a signal for a surprise attack when Lydia sings, “all that was me is gone.”

Cid fortifies us for battle with a Heroes Feast spell, and we successfully enter Katrina’s palace and seat ourselves for dinner and entertainment. When it is time for Lydia to perform, Lady Katrina makes a nasty little speech disclosing her knowledge of Lydia’s deceit, and summons a number of small black dragons to kill her!

Lydia cries, “All that was me is gone!” and the battle is on. The other guests run away screaming in terror. Flint casts Spike Growth to try to impede Katrina’s and the small dragons’ progress, Chini charms them with Mass Suggestion, and Lydia immobilizes the small dragons with a Stinking Cloud. Unfortunately Katrina has assumed her Black Onyx dragon form and is able to rise up and fly out of range of the poisonous fumes. She immediately focuses her wrath on Lydia and attacks her savagely. Kurshk rages powerfully and we all use our magic and our weapons to the best of our ability. Thanks to Cid’s Feast, we remain unafraid in spite of the Black Onyx’ sadistic threats, and we battle her to her death.

Just as Flint restores Lydia to health, who should appear but Bareris. He taunts us, revealing that he betrayed us (through So-Kehur) so that we would be severely weakened while killing Katrina, for whom he has no more use. He turns to Chini and demands his obedience. HA! Chini no longer dances to his tune!

Chini points his Finger of Death at Bareris and strikes a severely damaging (but unfortunately not lethal) blow! We all take aim at Bareris…

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Freeing Chinny

We all gather at the cabal chambers. Szindaer says that Chinny must undergo a dangerous ritual to prevent him from being possessed by an evil creature again in the future. He states that creatures from the Seven Hells will likely be summoned as we attempt to sever the link. Chinny is determined to go ahead with the ritual.

Szindaer reveals that the creature that holds this sway over Chinny is none other than the patron that grants him his warlock powers, who he calls a powerful fiend. He states, “The link he has formed with you is stronger than necessary to provide you these powers, and was formed without your knowledge. I believe Bareris is to blame for this. We simply need undo what Bareris has done.”

Chinny proposes that Lydia replace him on the Cabal before he undergoes the ritual. Lydia agrees to do so temporarily, until we are sure that Chinny has not been corrupted in some way, and states that he should resume his place on the Cabal only when we feel it is safe. Chinny agrees with this, and furthermore asks Lydia to kill him should he be controlled somehow and forced to act against the elves’ best interest.

We then discuss whether to continue to try to get information from Lady Katrina, now revealed to be a dragon, or to assassinate her now. We decide to assassinate her, after we perform the ritual on Chinny.

Szindaer leads us to a musty cellar on the boundary of the White Tower Grounds, where we meet up with Igor. We see an arcane circle engraved in the ground.

The light in the room seems to be sucked into the arcane circle as Chinicum mutters the incantation for his spell.

We hear whispering coming from a point just above Chinicum, emanating from some unearthly plane. Black patches of darkness appear around the room as creatures slip into our plane from the Seven Hells.

We engage with Grells from the Seven Hells and other creatures, eventually killing a Death Tyrant.

There is a blast of darkness from the center of Chinny’s circle, and the stone underneath his feet shatters, breaking the arcane circle. Chinny’s face seems to have more color than it did previously.

Szindaer declares that no fiend could have maintained the contact through that circle he created, so the link between him and Chinny should now be broken.

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Upon Our Return - Five Stories

We return to our own world with our new Beholder companion, Igor, who excites much fear and suspicion, which we do our best to allay.

Accepting to Ehput-Ki’s counsel, our group disperses. Flint heads immediately to the President and the Pig to reunite with Pensiar, accompanied by Wellby, Sparkle, and Kurshk. Lydia returns to Lady Katrina’s employ. Chinicum joins Ehput-ki to attend a Cabal meeting to vote on important pending matters. Igor and Cid remain with Mialee, who senses that Cid needs healing from the dark forces he encountered in the alternate universe.

At the President and the Pig, Wellby and Kurshk begin a night of heavy drinking, while Sparkle looks on in concern. Flint only has eyes for Pensiar, and is putty in her hands. She wishes to show Flint a perfect place to get married and he follows willingly. Pensiar leads Flint to a park, chatting excitedly the whole way. Flint is charmed and diverted, and doesn’t immediately notice when Pensiar begins to speak only in rhyme. Gradually he becomes puzzled and alarmed and leads her out of the park. They are followed by a man, who continues to follow them into a shop. Flint grabs the man from behind and places his short-sword against his neck. To his surprise the man talks to him in rhyme! He claims that Bareris has put him up to this to “buy time.” The spell soon wears off both the man and Pensiar, who is sure the man is no longer a threat. Flint, however, is not amused; he expresses himself in angry rhyme while he ties the man’s arms behind his back and drags him along with them back to the President and the Pig.

Mialee begins the ritual to heal Cid by pressing her palms to his temple. Igor misunderstands and fears he is witnessing a mating ritual, but is reassured and sits back to watch. After a while, black smoke issues from Cid’s mouth and congeals into several black demonic forms. Mialee cries, “To your feet! Destroy them!” At this point a mysterious silence falls and observers are not privy to what occurs next. We later learn that Cid has destroyed the demons, presumably aided by the indefatigable Igor.

Lydia obsequiously returns to Lady Katrina’s employ to sing soothing songs. Lady Katrina is transported back in memory to a faraway place and her form shimmers before solidifying. She is now so relaxed she becomes quite chatty and requests Lydia to ask her any questions she might have. Lydia tries to use this to advantage, and learns that the Lady is very fond of music and that she is really a … DRAGON!

Chinicum and Ehput-Ki hasten to the meeting of the Cabal. Bareris immediately tells them the Cult of the Dragon is succeeding in their plan to return dragons to the world of men, and that there are two ways to combat this. One way is to assist the elves and deny Sultana Pyre the civil war she desires. But Bareris has a second, fiendish idea of using an Elvish Burial Orb to take advantage of the civil war and siphon from the orb the power created by the deaths of elves. He pulls an Orb from his pocket — it is the very orb that we adventurers had long ago obtained for “Thia” (who blamed us for its fiery shattering)! It had not shattered; instead, Chini had used a Time-Stop spell to obtain the orb for Bareris, at his request!

Bareris now demonstrates how Chini, who possesses no such magic, was able to use such a powerful spell. A shadow passes over Chini, who sits taller and says, “I give Bareris my proxy for the upcoming vote.” He then collapses back in his chair. Umara immediately accuses Bareris of illegally compelling a vote, but Bareris, Ehput-Ki, and Chini himself inexplicably deny that this is the case.
Bareris now demands a vote, and it seems certain that his diabolical plan will win. Ehput-Ki inexplicably stalls for time when asked for his (the final) vote. At the last moment, who should float in but a small, withered Genasi, surrounded by a brilliant blue aura of magic. The magical power emanating from him is immense. He is none other than the long absent, 12th member of the Cabal, Szindaer. “I have not voted yet, Bareris,” he says, and casts the final vote in favor of aiding the elves in their war against Sultana. He explains that he does this because of an old promise to his friend Shavia.

Szindaer calls Chinicum a walking time-bomb, and suggests sorting out what came over him, to prevent it reoccurring at an even more inopportune time. Ehput-Ki explains it was Chini’s patron, who provides him his warlock powers, who possessed Chinicum. Szindaer offers to make sure Chini’s patron can never possess him again, and Chini agrees.

Back at the President and the Pig, Kurshk gets rip-roaring drunk, and Wellby gets stupefied. A terrible brawl occurs, but none of the participants remembers the details, so we only barely learn of its occurrence from Sparkle, and see little evidence except for some miscellaneous bruises and broken barstools. Sparkle has developed a very special affection for Wellby, and she offers him encouragement to avoid becoming a sorry drunk.

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The Death of Arjhan and the Reward of Dragonsbane

In the Dragon’s Horn Tower, Cid, masquerading as alt-Cid, converses with Mialee. She observes that there is a different aura about him, and asks if he has been withholding from the magic. He replies that he has in fact been using less of it. Cid asks if anything new has transpired since they last spoke. Mialee tell him that there is a powerful Spelleater who may be able to ascertain that he is not under the sway of the magic, and suggests he not approach him. Mialee hands him an amulet, which he takes as if he understands. A strange whispering and scratching background sound he had barely noticed suddenly disappears.

We climb past 5 floors to the roof of the tower. As we emerge onto the tower top we see a lone figure looking out over the twilight-colored landscape. He is dressed in bright red robes and appears to be a dragonborn. Igor points his eyestalks in his direction. Hearing our arrivival, the spelleater turns to face us. It is Arjhan! Arjhan immediately threatens to kill Chinicum. We begin to battle Arjhan, but hear the wings of a white dragon approaching. Arjhan suddenly vanishes and the huge white dragon lands in the middle of the tower top. We fight and slay the white dragon.

We continue to battle the invisible Arjhan, our attacks based on where his are coming from. Eventually Flint strikes the killing blow, and Arjhan dies (again). Pensiar suggests we go back to Aviana, and collect our rewards for accomplishing our mission. Igor insists on coming with us and refuses to take no for an answer, eventually trailing after us.

We make our way back to the tunnel we originally came through. Some of the Last Glimmer have come out, including Aviana, and they notice Igor. The guards start stringing bows and firing arrows at him He ducks and weaves and hides behind Lydia. When he doesn’t fight back, the guards stop and leave him alone, in confusion.

Aviana says we can treat each of our weapons with dragonsbane to allow them to shear through obsidian, or our armor to protect us from her fire magic.
She examines Cid’s amulet, telling him that it affects the mind and body of any creature into which he shapeshifts. She believes she can infuse the amulet in the same way, giving his claws the power to shear through obsidian or his pelt to resist fire.

Flint, Cid, Chinny, and Kurshk choose to have their weapons enhanced to be able to shear through obsidian. Lydia choose to have her armor treated to protect her from Sultana’s fire magic.

Igor wants to return to our world with us. A long discussion with Igor ensues, working out the terms. We eventually agree to allow him to come along and we prepare to return to our own world.

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