Here Be Dragons

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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Mission to the Dragon's Horn Tower

We pull out all stops to destroy the evil Dao and vanquish the vampire alternate Sparklegem in ferocious battle, causing Aviana to afterwards remark, “ Well. I won’t lie that your arrival is inconvenient. But at least you fight like devils possessed. Thank you.”

We learn from the newly arrived alternate Pensiar that things got messy in our universe when our alternates first arrived. Not only was alt-Sparkle a vampire, but alt-Lydia and alt-Chini hate each other for some reason, and alt-Cid tried to escape, causing chaos. Alt-Pensiar warns Cid that alt-Cid has been corrupted by wielding the nature magic of this alt-universe, and the same could happen to him if he uses his magic here!

Alt-Durkon learns from Flint that Durkon died a hero’s death, and is proud of that. Alt-Leucis reveals himself as a turncoat who is now helping the Glimmer. We are suspicious of him because of his counterpart Leucis’ role as General Lamentation.

We turn to planning the mission of killing the powerful Spelleater that alt-Lydia was planning to kill before she was inconveniently sent to our universe by our spell. The Spelleater is a guest at the Dragon’s Horn Tower and will be departing on the morrow. Flint asks many questions of Aviana, much to Kurshk’s impatience. Finally we determine that Kurshk’s initial idea is best, to fight our way in to the Tower, rather than to sneak in. We decide to take alt-Pensiar and alt-Durkon with us and leave Wellby and alt-Leucis behind.

We travel to the Dragon’s Horn and boldly approach. We are immediately involved in battle with a powerful Archmage and a Half-Red Dragon Veteran. We overcome and kill the Archmage with our weapons and magic. As he dies, he cries out, “Lord Chinicum – why???” Before we have a chance to finish off the Half-Red Dragon Veteran, he turns to Chini and says piteously, “Lord Chinicum? Have I displeased you, my lord?”

Now we understand why alt-Lydia hates alt-Chini! We immediately make use of this new information. Chini begins by ordering the half-dragon to go out into the forest and think about how he has disappointed him. As we enter the tower, we see an assortment of guards and guests. Chini orders everyone inside to leave. Nearly all immediately obey. We are surprised to encounter alt-Mialee, who stays, and also to our horror, a fabled Beholder.
Beholders are bulbous-headed, floating, diabolical, egomaniacal, creatures with multiple eyeballs on tentacles, but this one doesn’t seem to live up to his reputation. He declares loudly, “I DO NOT KNOW YOU!” and then proceeds to introduce himself as “I-gor” and to say stupid things.

Flint catches sight of a mage lurking in an adjacent room and calls Chini’s attention to him. Chini “orders” Flint to shoot him, and Flint “obeys” and pierces the mage with several well-aimed arrows. The mage sulkily departs.

Alt-Mialee comments, “Surely you’ll be more pleasant with our… other… esteemed guest. He’s upstairs.” Surely she is referring to the powerful Spelleater that we are here to destroy!

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The Last Glimmer

Lydia’s attack brings Sorim to his knees, barely alive. Cid questions him. He tells us the village is 3 miles to the west, and Cid suggests we take him with us to be sure he is telling the truth. We talk with him and then Lydia slays him, and we heal ourselves and head west to the village. As we approach we see the inhabitants of the village hiding in their homes. Flint suggests we disguise ourselves, as we don’t know how our counterparts in this universe are perceived.

We head towards the center of this small town of about 200. An innkeeper gives us directions to Dazen’s house. Flint uses the code phrase “Twilight falls but does not extinguish the last glimmer of light” and an old man with a huge bushy beard hurries us inside, shutting and locking the door.

He quickly figures out who we are and leads us into a cellar when we ask to see Pensiar. He twists off the lid of a barrel, reaches in, and twists something inside. Then he walks over to what looks to be a wine barrel, and rolls it aside to reveal a passageway. He tells us to follow the tunnel to find Pensiar and the Last Glimmer. He closes the barrel behind us and we make our way thru it.

After about 10 minutes a petite woman with long black hair steps out of the shadows and interrogates us. Her name is Aviana. Once she is sure who we are, she expresses her frustration that our appearance has disrupted their plans as their Lydia has been whisked from their world just when she had been undercover at the Dragon’s Horn where a high-level Spelleater was due to arrive.

Aviana assures Flint that our Pensiar is safe and suggests a deal – we send our Pensiar back, help them complete their mission, and in return she will help us defeat Sultana.

Aviana offers us each Dragonsbane treated weapons or fire resistant armor. She refuses us both but agrees that we may take a dragonsbane plant to cultivate, though she does not believe this will be overly effective.

Aviana leads us into a large cavern where several people are gathered including Pensiar. She and Flint have a warm reunion. Pensiar agrees when Flint tells her she must go home first so her counterpart can return to this world where she can be of assistance. She also accepts Flint’s proposal that they marry as soon as he returns. Sparklegem decides to go with her for protection.

Chinny casts a spell to send Flint back but senses something crawling out of the portal he has created.

Pensiar and Sparklegem disappear and their counterparts appear – but Sparklegem looks very different. we realize that her counterpart is a vampire. We engage in battle with her and…?

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Off to Rescue Pensiar...

Chinicum is welcomed to the newly open position on the Cabal by an inwardly gleeful Bareris, who, as Pensiar and Flint suspect, manipulated events so that former member Aoth would be killed. Clearly Bareris expects Chinicum’s full support, but it is equally clear to the adventurers that Chinicum will remain independent. Bareris immediately pivots in his opinion about Lady Katrina, and votes that, instead of immediately assassinating the Lady, Lydia use her position as private Bard to gather more information from her.

Flint turns his attention to Pensiar and Ehput-Ki, curious about what transpired in their private conversation. Ehput-Ki explains that when we go to the alternate Pensiar’s world to return her and bring back our Pensiar, we will find … “something” that will be instrumental in defeating Sultana. Ehput-Ki will teach Chinicum the spell necessary for us to go there. He offers no advice on when we should undertake this. Flint then asks Pensiar’s opinion, and she states that although she cannot be unbiased, the sooner we do this, the better chances of her being able to get back to her world. Flint believes that we should therefore go immediately (only to learn he has made a false assumption that Pensiar would return to her world with us, giving us all this “better chance” to reach her world, rescue our Pensiar, and save our world). But the others concur that going to the other world now is a good choice.

An immediate departure will complicate Lydia’s plans, as she has agreed to become Lady Katrina’s personal bard. A solution is quickly found – Lydia manufactures a family emergency, charms Lady Katrina with her music, and obtains the Lady’s blessing for a leave of absence.

Ehput-Ki and Pensiar explain that our counterparts from the other world will take our places here, and hopefully not cause trouble. We will arrive in a bleak, dim world where the “not nice” dragon goddess Tiamat rules over everything. We should be distrustful of everyone except members of the resistance, the “Last Glimmer,” whom we may or may not encounter near a village called Crestfall. If we can find Dazen Andross and say, “Twilight falls but does not extinguish the last glimmer of light,” he may be able to put us in touch with the Last Glimmer.

We now make our final plans for departure. We decide to take Wellby and Sparklegem with us. Flint and the others take final leave of the alternate Pensiar, Chinicum casts the spell taught to him by Ehput-Ki, and the world seems to fade away…

We find ourselves in a clearing in inky twilight surrounded by tall rocks with runic signs on them. Two mages sitting by a crackling fire rise and accost us. They sensed the spell that brought us and politely but pointedly ask for the magic. Flint tries the friendly, innocent routine; Chinicum more directly demands the mages’ assistance; neither approach deters the inevitable violent confrontation that ensues.

Chinicum casts a spell that temporarily banishes one of the mages to a harmless Demiplane. We manage to kill the remaining mage, who first exacts a heavy toll on several of us. Rather than flee, we await the return of the other mage, who soon pops back to meet our wrath. Perhaps we can gain information from him…

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