Here Be Dragons

Into Surria

In the morning, Jasnah calls Cid, Flint, Kurshk, Yevelda, Pensiar, Althaea, Mialee and Zasheir together to discuss plans. No one knows where Lydia and Chinicum have gone and we are unable to reconstruct their last movements. Will we ever see them again? We must carry on.

Jasnah tells us a civil war has broken out amongst the elves, seeded by our attempt to expose Thia. Alarmingly, the neighboring nation of Surria is actively inflaming the elvish civil war, sending agents into the Elvish forests.

Jasnah tells us Sparklegem and Wellby are undercover in Surria and have sent reports that the Cult of the Dragon is active there. Sparklegem and Wellby have joined forces with a group called The Sons of Surria, whose aim is to root out the Cult. Jasnah thinks a small group of us should go to Surria to interfere with the Cult’s plans.

Flint, Cid and Kurshk decide to go. We choose to take Pensiar and Mialee with us, turning down Zasheir’s offer. We are given papers to cross the border on our side but are told we will have to figure out a way to get past the guards on the Surrian side. After that we are to head to the town of Kazan and check into the tavern “The President and the Pig,” where Wellby will find us.

Before we leave, there is Lamentation to deal with. Detestable as he is, Pensiar states he represents her best chance to get home, and reminds us that he knows EVERYTHING about our enemy, which would be quite a bit of information to throw away. So we decide to let him live, at least for now, and we have him brought to us for questioning.

Lamentation is more than happy to give us information. He explains to us what Sultana wants with the elves. Sultana seeks to bring the dragons back in full. Apparently the dragons and the immortal races have been banished to some twilight world, which Sultana visits in her dreams. (Is this the very twilight world that we visit in our dreams?) The elves, being an immortal race, are still in the midst of being “transitioned” to this other world, which is drawing them in. Althaea confirms that the elves are slowly disappearing. Lamentation tells us that Sultana believes that after the elves are gone from this world, she can break the barrier and let the dragons out, so she is trying to hurry the process… by killing them all.

Although Kurshk would still like very much to smash Lamentation to a pulp, Cid and Flint concur that Lamentation may continue to be useful in the future, and we decide to keep him alive. But we draw the line at Lamentation’s offer to go with us to Surria, and instead have him locked up until we return.

We are teleported to Clearview, the town nearest the Surrian border. At a tavern, over hard cider, Cid devises a brilliant plan. We will tell the Surrian guards we are Surrian spies that have been in this country for several years, which will explain our accents and lack of documentation. If this ruse fails, we will retreat and Cid will turn himself into a crocodile and ferry us across the border river on his back.

The scheme works like a charm. Flint masterfully convinces the guards that he is overjoyed to be back in Surria, making fun of the foolish officials in the other country. When the guards still reluctantly require proof, Flint “understands” completely, and pretends to ponder how to prove himself. Fortunately, he is given an opportunity by the guard, who says, “Perhaps you could describe your signet ring? The one you had to discard?” The only signet ring Flint has seen recently belongs to Lydia, so he describes it. “It was blue, lapis. A rune on it. Thick, gold…”

At this, the guard exclaims, “Oh my… I am TERRIBLY sorry for delaying you, my lords. Please pass through!” .. … (“Lords?” What just happened!? What is Lydia doing with such a ring?)

But there is little time for speculation. We hurry past the guards and head toward Kazan. We keep a low profile, sleeping at night by the side of the road, stopping occasionally at taverns to quench Flint’s thirst for information and Kurshk’s thirst for ale. It will take many days of travel, mostly by foot, to reach Kazan. Days on the road are passing swiftly and uneventfully until one day, ever on the alert, we perceive an ambush ahead!

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Lamentation Revealed!

As the Young Red Dragon enters the room, we continue to battle the cultists and the Dragon. We defeat all the cultists, and Chinny successfully turns the dragon into a toad, which Cid attacks, and even though he resumes his dragon form, we successfully defeat him.

The final door breaks as a swarm of cultists trip over themselves trying to reach us. We hear an influx of wind, and the tear rips open in front of Arjhan.

Yevelda is the first through the breach, charging at the cultists with a snarl. Her clansmen follow through, screaming their battlecries. Mialee follows shortly after, serenely heading over to tend to our wounds. A large force of Baldur’s Gate soldiers follow on her heels to join the fight. The battle trends out into the hallway, with us following, as the fight progresses. The fighting has pushed to the sanctuary, where the cultists are desperately trying to hold off the invading force. Both forces are committed, and their lines are thin. We rush off with Althaea to help her kill Lamentation.

The hallway is empty, the entire protective unit having engaged in the melee behind us. A large door lies at the end of the corridor, and we can see Althaea swing it open and charge through. As we enter, we can see Althaea has stopped in her tracks, looking around in confusion. The room seems built for a wizard, with books and potions. A large orb with a sun emblazoned on it stands prominently off to the side. The only other occupant is a small, deformed Tiefling huddled against the wall, trying to get away from the raving werewolf in the room. His head is too large for his body, with a brute’s squashed-in face beneath a swollen shelf of brow. One green eye and one black one peer out from under a lank of hair so blonde it seems white.

It is Leucis, and he squeaks out “Werewolf! Werewolf!”

Arjhan hangs back, looking around carefully, his eyes narrowed, before addressing the Tiefling, saying “I believe this is the idiot we’ve been seeking. Our friend, L…”

Arjhan’s voice cuts off with an undignified roar as a dagger erupts from his chest, soaked in his blood. Arjhan stares down at the blade in shock. Behind Arjhan stands Feldor, his hood pulled back to reveal his cragged, bearded face. Feldor yanks the dagger out of Arjhan’s back. Arjhan’s lifeless form collapses to the ground, green dragonborn blood spreading from his chest. Feldor’s invisibility spell fades and we realize we are sharing the room with two more young dragons, one red and one green. Both of them have large veins of shadow throbbing up and down their bodies.

Feldor says, “Such marvelous creatures, dragons. Sultana has displayed her brilliance in resurrecting a few of these extinct creatures. I think it is quite fitting that they be the last thing you see. Your interference has grown tiresome.”

We battle Feldor and the dragons. After a long, fierce, protracted fight, we slay Feldor and both dragons. Flint asks Leucis where Lamentation is. Leucis says that he ran, but Flint is suspicious.

Chinny and Flint begin to whisper that perhaps Leucis is Lamentation, and a furry form pushes past us: Althaea, in full werewolf mode. We hear Leucis let out a yelp as Althaea lifts him by the neck in one gigantic paw.

Althaea says “This? This is the runt that killed my daughter and took my eye? That vanished half the light of my world in an instant?”

Leucis cries that he is sorry and is defecting to our side. Althaea regains control of her emotions and her werehair recedes while Flint wonders if there is any possible good in letting Lamentation defect. Leucis pleads pitifully with us to let him live and to help us.

Kurshk advances on Leucis, determined to kill him now, but we all leap to stop him as Lydia proposes we use him and THEN kill him. Chinny ends the discussion by transforming Kurshk into a toad. Lydia picks him up and stores him safely in a little bag until he transforms back into himself.

Leucis says he has been held here against his will, that Sultana knew he would run if he had the chance. He says that he is in love with Sultana, but knows what we have to do. He has led us to him in the hopes that we will help him escape. But he seems conflicted. He tells us he knows the spell that pulled Pensiar to our world,

We take Leucis with us back to Baldur’s Gate without revealing his identity. There is a big celebration over the defeat of the Cult, despite the loss of Arjhan. After a night of celebrating the group wakes up to find that Lydia and Chinny have disappeared. And Kurshk is no longer a toad. Leucis is in chains in the room with Flint and Cid.

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Battling for Time

We successfully battle the remaining guards in the teleportation room and finally have it all to ourselves! Using the communicator, we immediately contact Zasheir to prepare the troops for transport, and Arjhan begins the ritual to cast a spell to open the portal.

We are not left alone for long. A succession of enemies enters the chamber from different directions, and we find ourselves battling waves of Dragonclaw, Assassins, Cultists and Scouts. Arjhan works as quickly as he can to open the portal as we fend off the enemy, using all our resources. The alternate Pensiar proves to be very adept in melee battle. Cid and Flint summon spiders and wasps to aid us. Lydia discovers a love of Firebolts. Chini, Kurshk and Althaea battle bravely as well, and we are succeeding in holding off the enemy. We can see the portal is almost open and we can hear the clamor of ravening orcs, waiting to teleport to our assistance. Clearly Yevelda has proven to be a valuable ally!

Suddenly, a roar shakes the entire cavern. A large young dragon is being slowly led into the room by wary handlers. It looks like we now have our work cut out for us!

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An Alternate Universe

We go to the mess hall to eavesdrop and try to find information about where Leucis might be. Flint begins a conversation with a cultist, casually asking about some of the people he says he used to know, and dropping Leucis’ name. The cultist, who has been there two years, doesn’t recognize the names. Flint makes an excuse to get up and move away when the communicator starts buzzing in his pocket. Lydia engages some women in conversation, to no avail.

Flint goes to the outhouse just in time to get a spoken message from Leucis, who tells Flint he is in the Serpent Hills, in an underground base. He is shocked to learn we are inside the compound as well. Leucis explains that he is a prisoner and also a servant of Lamentation. He can sometimes hear chanting when the door to his room is opened, but he has no idea where he is within the compound. He only sees Lamentation and his guards.

Flint grills him and learns that a crate of food is delivered every week, that Leucis prepares Lamentation’s meals, and that he believes he could put poison or drugs into the food if we are able to smuggle it in to him.

Arjhan tells us that the sanctuary is where chanting would be heard. As we discuss ways to impersonate the guards and enter the prison room, a cultist passes by and passes a message to Flint. It is from Pensiar, and includes a token which she instructs Flint to use to bypass the guards in the armory.

We go to the armory, and are waved through when the guards see the token. Inside, we approach an open door and we are waved in by a blond woman.

The woman explains that she is not Pensiar, but that she comes from an alternate world much like ours. She is who Pensiar would have been had she been born in this other world. She knows Flint’s counterpart in this other world as well. She explains that a couple of weeks ago she was ripped from her reality and found herself in ours, face to face with a half dragon named Sultana Pyre. Sultana is fascinated by her world, and has pulled several people here. When she does this, she has to send the alternate to the other world – which is where the real Pensiar is now.

She states: ‘Since coming here I have been scouring your history, trying to determine the extent of the differences. I believe I have found the root event that distinguishes our worlds.

“Several centuries ago, in my world, the Cult of the Dragon existed as well. Sultana Pyre lived then, too, though she was a minor player in the ranks of the Cult, rather than its leader.

“Then, as now, the Cult was seeking dragon eggs, and occasionally attacked villages that were reported to have them. She personally led the attack on a small outlying village.

“Four champions were staying in the village. Wolfwyn. Hadlock. Lathlaeril. Alleyn. They challenged Sultana Pyre to combat, and were obliterated. The Cult proceeded with its plan, which was the resurrection of the Dragon Goddess Tiamat. They were successful. Tiamat reigns supreme over my world. It is a bleak, dangerous land, and we survive as best we can.

“But in your world, the champions survived. They challenged Sultana Pyre to combat. Sultana won, and left them for dead. These champions recovered, and led the assault against the Cult, ultimately preventing their plan to resurrect Tiamat.

‘When I was brought here, I was offered a bargain. Answer Sultana’s questions. Serve the Cult faithfully. And then Sultana would return me to my world. That of course was not enough to earn my obedience, so Sultana made one more concession. Tiamat’s secret.

‘I must return to my world, Flint. I must. I know how to banish Tiamat. I know how to save my world.

‘“I trust you more than I ever would Sultana. And you have a vested interest in returning me to my world, so that you can see your fiancee again. I will fight for you.

‘In my world, there are no elves: they’ve been wiped out. But there are…lots and lots of dragons. And this should explain to you why Sultana Pyre is such a dangerous foe…She KNOWS that it is her fault. If she had been more careful, dragons would still soar above the skies.

‘She is alone. No dragons to call kin. Only her half elvish blood keeping her locked in this world instead of passing on to wherever the dragons are now. She blames herself. She would do anything. ANYTHING, to fix this. She is the most dangerous foe you are likely to ever face.

The difference between our worlds lies in Sultana’s actions. In yours, she left those 4 champions for dead. In mine, she made sure of it.

She is fascinated by my world because it gives her a glimpse of what could have been.
She sees what the world would have been if she had killed the four champions.
I believe the elves are tied to this. In my world, they are gone.’

After explaining all this, Pensiar asks how she can help.

Flint explains that we are here to kill general Lamentation, saying “We had thought to use the portal to bring in a small army to kill Lamentation … but it is well guarded. We have a possible ally who works as a servant for Lamentation on the inside, and thought to smuggle him herbs to knock out Lamentation. We are still trying to develop a plan…’

Pensiar tells us that she will help us achieve our goal of killing Lamentation, and wants Flint to figure out how to get back to her own world. She was transported to the village of Oakshield a couple of weeks ago, at the same moment the Pensiar of our world was transported to the other world.

Pensiar states the first stage is to clear the summoning room of some of the Cultists. She can get 5-10 guards to go thru the portal with her, but doesn’t feel that would be enough.

After some discussion it is decided to poison the drinking water of the guards with berbolo bush root, which will only kill evil creatures, and which Flint has in his possession. Pensiar leads them into the kitchen and Flint surreptitiously adds the tasteless herb to the food and vats of ale.

We go to the teleportation room, where groups of guards take turns going to the mess hall. Those just returning begin to look ill and fall over. Soon most of the groups have fallen ill, and we prepare to attack them.

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Amongst enemies ... and allies ?

We decide to fight our way through the chamber. Because we have the advantage of surprise, we kill the ghouls, ghasts and wights easily in battle, and continue on through the caves.

The communication device that Flint is carrying in his pocket suddenly sputters to life. It is Zasheir, reporting that the 3D mapping is online, and that the device has the capability of making the sender appear in whatever form they wish. The implication is that Lamentation may not be the red-haired, strapping, horned, beet-red Tiefling that he appears to be.

We start again through the caves, only to stop short when we hear a hissing voice ahead. It is a half-snake, half human Yuan-Ti, an indigenous serpent, who is searching for cultists to kill. Cid casts a Pass Without Trace spell, and we manage to sneak past him. After a long trek through the caves, we encounter two cultists who step directly into our path. Arjhan quickly prevents Kurshk and Flint from foolishly pushing past the cultists. “Twilight falls on the world of men,” states a cultist. “For the Dragons are coming,” replies Arjhan. Arjhan affirms the cultists’ assumption that we have indeed been undercover for a long time, and thanks them for using an old password in deference to our outdated cult robes. Arjhan leads us boldly past them.

We pause and study the 3D plans again. Arjhan points out the three areas that were off-limits last time he was here – the teleportation circle off the gathering hall, another area off the sanctuary, and another area off the armory. Arjhan believes Lamentation is likely in one of the latter two areas. While we are discussing this, Arjhan suddenly says, “Feldor is here!” and ducks down a hallway to hide. The rest of us pull our hoods closely over our faces and look innocent, hoping the mage from whom we stole the communication device does not recognize us. Although Feldor looks at us curiously in passing, he does not recognize us.

As we continue toward the teleportation circle, we see a blonde woman in plate armor with several cultists in tow, marching toward the armory. Flint stares at the receding figure in recognition and freezes. Lydia notices Flint’s shock, and quickly hums an effective, calming melody. Arjhan at this moment rejoins us from another direction, and Flint, who has recovered his poise, leads us to the entrance to the teleportation room, where a couple of cultists are standing. The cultists greet us, and following Arjhan’s lead we confidently walk past them into the room.

In this room there are at least 30 cultists, some simply hanging out, others keeping guard. Apparently our naïve plan to kill the guards and summon our forces will need rethinking. We talk quietly among ourselves, remaining inconspicuous. Can we spoof a message from Lamentation to clear the room? As we discuss this, the blonde woman in plate armor bursts into the room with several cultists in tow. Flint stops in mid-sentence. He watches the woman, her aura of command unfamiliar but her features identical to his missing fiancée, Pensiar. Flint’s face turns to stony mask and he pulls his hood tighter to remain hidden. But the woman abruptly walks straight up to him and pulls back his hood. She gasps, but recovers quickly. Lydia puts her hand to her rapier in readiness.

“Are you a new recruit? I don’t know you,” the woman says. Flint whispers, “Pensiar, what are you doing?” He states, more loudly, “Yes. We are new recruits.” She says, “Do you think you know me, recruit?” Flint quickly replies, “My mistake. I believe we are assigned to your command.” The woman replies she needs no new recruits for her mission, then pauses as if considering new plans. “Perhaps we will speak later,” she says, and abruptly turns away to rejoin her troops. An incantation for the portal (which apparently had been intoned a full 10 minutes before) finally takes effect. The portal pops up, and Pensiar and her cultists march through. It vanishes with a small pop.

Lydia can barely contain her curiosity. “Is it her? Is she our ally? Or does she not know you?” Flint replies, with absolute certainty, “She knows me. She has not exposed me. So she is still acting autonomously.” We all quietly speculate on possible explanations for Pensiar’s behavior – if it is truly her – but can reach no conclusion. If she keeps her intention of meeting with Flint again, more will be certainly be revealed.

Arjhan finally returns us to the matter at hand. He sums things up: “Pensiar may or may not prove helpful. Feldor is going to be a problem. And we still have Leucis, who hasn’t contacted us again. We might have two allies in here, if we can figure out how to make use of them. It comes back to this room, and how to clear it out.”

We decide it might be a good idea to scout things out in the forbidden hallways, looking for Leucis.

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Infiltrating the Serpent HIlls

We continue to battle Shump and his fellow Slaad, eventually slaying all except one which Chinny turns into a toad, whom Chinny deposits in a scummy pond to live out his days. We express the wish that, in an alternate world, the victorious Shump could also be relegated to a scummy pond, rather than becoming a leader of the free world. Yevelda gratefully proclaims that her clan is forever in our debt.

Yevelda then examines and extracts a small disc-like object from the folds of Shump’s grey flabby skin. We recognize it as one of Lamentation’s communication devices. A squeaky voice speaks from the device, begging for our help when he realizes we are not part of the Cult. There is a crash, a squeak of terror, and the voice, who has identified himself as Leucis, says that he will call us if he can.

Yevelda states that the mage is waiting back at Tyrisis to portal us back to Baldur’s Gate. She will begin mobilization of her clan and meet us when she can.

We return to Tyrisis and report to Jasnah, letting her know that we managed to convince important an Elf leader of Thia’s treachery, that she is Sultana, and that he is trying to convince other clans of this fact In reward, Jasnah presents us with two sets of magical leather armor. Lydia and Flint gratefully accept the additional protection.

Mialee then announces that she and Althaea believe they have identified the nexus which Lamentation’s disc connects to, and that he is hiding there, in the Serpent Hills.

Zasheir examines the second device, the one we have found. He states that he has learned how to modify the communication devices so that we can talk with his people. We tell him about our conversation with Leucis (which is a Tiefling name), and Althaea warns us that he might be attempting to trick us. Arjhan points out that Althaea is not completely unbiased when it comes to Tieflings.

We discuss ways to infiltrate the caves within the Serpent Hills to find Lamentation. We gradually develop a plan for Zasheir to find out how to program one of the communication devices to display 3D images of the caves. Arjhan reveals that he knows of a teleportation circle deep in the compound that could possibly be subverted and used to teleport our allies in.

Althea summarizes:

“This seems straightforward.

Dress up as cultists.
Infiltrate.
Seize the portal
Get our forces in.
Kill Lamentation."

Jasnah adds that the village of Soubar, where there are possible witnesses of Flint’s fiancee, is not far off the route to the Serpent Hills.

We immediately head to Soubar, a ghost town filled with large piles of rubble and very few people. Most of the people avoid us, but Flint approaches and speaks to a man, showing him a picture of his lost fiancee. The man, Mathis, tells us that she is the commander of the soldiers who destroyed his village, with the help of kobolds. Her soldiers had slit the throat of the mayor and stolen items from his house, possibly dragon eggs. This is very puzzling to Flint, as it does not sound like the woman he remembers.

We decide to dress as cultists in the robes we have collected from slain enemies and enter the caves, with Arjhan to lead us to the base of operations. Flint magically detects several dragons inside the caves, as well as one celestial and lots of undead.

We disguise ourselves as cultists and Arjhan leads the way into the cave. After about 10 minutes he stops, and tells us that there are undead in the next room. We debate whether to fight our way through, or to try to find a way to avoid them.

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Ending the Madness

Thog was successful in deactivating our chips. We impress the crowd with our next arena battle, and Shump arranges the huge spectacle: two monstrous yetis. Chinicum convinces one of them to attack Shump while we make quick work of the other.

The crowd is chanting our names while Shump unsuccessfully attempts to disable us with the devices. It is at this moment when Yevelda reveals herself to the crowd, and convinces Shump to engage in a debate. During the debate, Shump is revealed to be an incompetent thin-skinned ignorant boorish fraudulent omnihypocritical demagogue, at which time the crowd (obviously) turns against him.

He does not accept the results, and drops the charade, revealing himself and some of his followers to be Slaad: shape-shifters. A few of his more die-hard supporters stand by him as we attempt to take him down.

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"The Bad Hombres" (aka "The Five Dreamwalkers")!

We prevail against all the orcs in the arena. Shump dubs us the Bad Hombres, and declares it an upset win. We are immediately relieved of our weapons and sent back to our prison cells.

But wait! A possible ray of light – Yevelda recognizes one of the guards! It is Thog, an acquaintance that Yevelda feels she might trust. She takes a risk and surreptitiously reveals herself to him. He promises to return when it is safe to speak.

And now, in an adjacent cell, a prisoner named Sutha recognizes Yevelda. She explains that we will be sent back into the arena over and over, to battle to the death, until we are killed. The ringing in our heads will prevent us from using magic to escape.

We discuss possible escape plans. Lydia feels sure she can use her wiles on Shump if she can get to him and Sutha says that will only be possible if Lydia impresses him on the battlefield. Chini and Flint focus on the ringing as a key element, believing that we will have a great advantage if we can disable it without Shump’s knowledge.

Thog returns under the guise of bringing a gift from Shump. He asks Yevelda why she has returned. She explains that Shump is perverting their traditions and history, and causing them to revert to their primitive selves. “Tor would be appalled at what our clan has become in only a month,” she states. “Half of my people are deplorables!”

Thog clearly has decided to assist us. He agrees that the ringing is key, and has us draw up our pant legs to reveal a microchip embedded in each of our calves. “Don’t remove it,” he warns us, or we will be nearly destroyed by the results. The chips must be deactivated before removal.

Thog has already gathered several orcs he can trust, Uruk, Mezelda, and Briant, who are attempting to obtain the special device that can disable the chip, but Thog cautions us that this will take some time. In the meantime we must stall for time by prevailing in the arena. He stresses that we should become as popular as we can with the crowd so that when we finally reveal ourselves it will go better. “Be entertaining,” he advises.

We try to wrap our minds around the possibilities, as only Lydia has experience in entertaining audiences. When Lydia comments that the odds are against us, Yevelda demurs. “The odds are NEVER against us,” she states. She explains to Thog (in our hearing) that we are from the Sha Via, and she refers to us as “the five Dreamwalkers.” When pressed by Flint for more information about the prophecy, she says, ”’The Dreamwalkers will unite the clan, and fight the dragons.’”

Now Thog provides us with wise counsel. “Wipe the floor with your next opponents. Shump will be impressed, and arrange a huge spectacle of a battle. If you are as good as you say, you will be able to win this, and the crowd will be on your side. Assuming the chips are deactivated by then, that will be the time to reveal your presence.” Thog estimates we will need to have gathered 270 allies in order to ultimately triumph against Shump.

Once again, it is time for battle, and we are led to the arena and provided with weapons. Our magic is temporarily available to us again. We, the “Bad Hombres," endeavor to impress the crowd and increase our popularity. Unfortunately, except for Lydia, we are not experienced at being entertaining, and are having limited success. Shump has brought his “Death Ray” toy to the arena. The Bad Hombres know what we need to do – we must wipe the floor with these opponents and impress the crowd! Only then will Shump arrange the huge spectacle we are counting on!

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In the Shump Hotel & Arena

We continue to battle, Lydia now recovered enough to engage the enemy with her vicious mockeries.

Jericho, the leader of the Elves, states that his clan can’t remain here as Thia will likely destroy them. He declines Chinny’s offer of our help. He says he has heard that were responsible for destruction of one of their sacred orbs, but believes us when we tell him that it was Thia who did this.

Yevelda wants to rejoin her clan and we decide to accompany her. Flint asks if we can go to Oakshield on the way to investigate a very important personal matter. When questioned he says he is looking for his fiance Pensiar, who was driven from his town with her family.

On arriving in Oakfield Flint sees a beggar whom he has heard may have seen Pensiar. He gives the beggar, Blinky, some alms, and asks about her, showing him her photo. Blinky becomes agitated and begins rambling about the body snatchers inside a nearby shack, whom he states took his friend Winky. He says the same thing happened to Pensiar.

Flint cautiously opens the door to the shack, but it is empty. A thorough investigation reveals nothing. Flint then approaches a constable and shows him Pensiar’s photograph, but the constable doesn’t recognize her. He states the beggar is crazy.

Yevelda tells us that her red haired family has led their clan for centuries, and have a prophetic text, the Sha Via. She says that a red haired impostor came and influenced the clan, which turned on her, causing her to run for her life.

We offer to help her expose this impostor, and discuss how to enter the Orc settlement without being seen. Before we can approach the settlement we are attacked and captured by orcs.

We awaken in jail cells, separated from each other, weaponless but unharmed. Our armor remains on. Our ears are ringing. We can’t seem to make our magic work. There are guards watching us. A prisoner named Sutha tells us that we will be forced to fight in the Orcs’ arena.

Suddenly guards come and force us out of our cells, and we are shoved into the arena, where weapons stand in front of each of us, their hilts protruding from the sandy ground. There are many orcs in the arena with us. An obese, red haired orc bearing a frightening resemblance to a wicked politician from an alternate universe announces the beginning of the games. His wife, sitting beside him, gives a plagarized welcoming speech to the crowd.

Flint slays an orc; Lydia casts a stinking cloud, Cid releases a giant scorpion, and on and on we fight for our very lives…

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Convincing the Elves...

We teleport right into the middle of Tyrisis and are confronted by angry veterans who believe we are draft dodgers. They are especially suspicious when they notice that there is an elf with us. We have neglected to disguise Lora!

With Lydia’s powers of suggestion, Kurshk’s intimidating presence, and Chinicum’s familiar, we are able to convince the veterans to let us be, and we learn that a human army is massing in the forest as a show of force against the elves. Lydia makes Lora and herself invisible, and we leave the city unmolested, heading for the elven glade where Lora’s trusted friend will be found. We immediately encounter the human army.

We wish to disperse the troops and prevent their slaughter and the escalation of war, but Lydia isn’t feeling well, and is unable to participate in making any plans. Without her civilizing influence, the rest of the group falls to quarreling. Unable to reach consensus, Flint unilaterally marches over to the human commander and persuades him that we have just heard a reliable rumor in town that the humans will be engaging the elves in battle on the other side of the county in Oakborne. The commander happily leads the troops away in the direction of Oakborne, crying, “Death to the elven heathens!”

Now we discuss how to successfully reach Lora’s friend through the forest without being attacked by elves, and we fall to quarreling again. Flint coldly threatens to kill Kurshk, a foolhardy plan but one that earns Flint Arjhan’s grudging respect. Flint reminds the group that without cooperation our enterprise will be doomed. We finally agree that Cid will become a deer, and the rest of us will don elven garb provided by the wizard Arjhan, except for Kurshk who steadfastly refuses to change clothes, and who remains an obvious dwarf. Lydia and Lora remain invisible. We pass unmolested through the forest. Lora makes herself visible again, and knocks on the door of her elderly friend, Merisse.

Merisse lets us in and is convinced by Lora of Thia/Sultana’s treachery. She takes us to the Clan Leader, Jericho, who has apparently become concerned about the Queen’s edicts since she has been taking advice from Thia/Sultana. Jericho grimly believes our report and recognizes that, because we have come here, his clan is now in mortal danger. He decides to order his clan to disperse, and to send his top trusted aides to try and stop Thia/Sultana’s plans in the other glades. He himself will go in person to see the Queen.

At this moment, several cloaked elves enter the room with their weapons drawn. Sultana’s sycophants! We are immediately engaged in battle with spies, an assassin, and a cult fanatic. Chimi and Flint make short work of the cult fanatic, while a raging Kurshk and a barkskin-protected Cidbear engage the spies and the assassin. And now, a question: Has Lydia recovered enough to be effective in this battle and to help her comrades remain united?

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