Here Be Dragons

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…

The Death of Aoth

We meet privately and discuss whether we will go along with the assassination plot. Despite some reservations, we decide that we will, to further the goal of an alliance between our two countries.

Chinny asks Aoth if he should come along to help protect Lydia, but Aoth feels the odds of success are better without him and reaffirms his committment to protect Lydia.

Flint takes Lydia aside and expressed his concern that there may be people in the Cabal who are in the Cult and that if we give information to the Cabal, we are giving it to the Cult. Lydia tells her to trust Umara.

All but Lydia and Aoth return to the white tower, and Ehput-Ki and Pensiar step aside to talk about her alternate dimension.

Umara tells the group that Lydia thinks highly of them, and hopes her true job did not cause too much conflict. Flint expresses our suspicion of Bareris and asks if there are others on the Cabal also under suspicion. Umara explains that as lords and ladies of the nation whose will is the law, the members of the Cabal would never align themselves with the Cult. She believes that even Bareris would never stoop to ally himself with the cult – but that he might be trying to use them and that if he has dealings with the cult it is only because he is trying to get something from them – before he stabs them in the back.

Flint asks if she is sure, and Umara replies, “Pretty sure.”

As they speak quietly, Bareris abruptly falls out of his chair, his beard sprayed out as if charged with electricity. Umara laughs and says that he was trying to eavesdrop on her conversation with the group, but should have know Umara would have a countermeasure.

Umara says that the Cabal is split quite evenly, with Bareris as leader of the other faction, consisting of Bareris, So-Kehur, Nulara, Zolis, and Ramas. She can only guess his true motives when he forces his bloc to vote a certain way, but it is always for personal power. Flint asks why the others would go along with him, and Umara surmises that perhaps he shares this power with them.

Chinny asks what the other faction stands for, and Umara replies: “Often we oppose whatever it is Bareris wants. He has been on this Cabal longer than anyone except our absent leader. He has consolidated his power and now owns 5 of the 11 votes. No one should have that power.”

Flint asks about the absent leader and Umara explains that he was the founder of Surria and the Cabal over 250 years ago. He still lives, but has not been seen in over a decade. Bareris has served the next longest – 80 years.

Umara ends, “I love this nation, and I want the best for the Cabal. As long as the Cabal serves the best interest of Surria, I will abide by its decisions. I am a Surrian first, and a Cabalist second.”

Flint asks if Lady Umara has any reason to suspect Bareris’ loyalty to Surria, and she replies that his loyalty is to himself.

Meanwhile, at the Castle of Lady Katrina, Aoth turns himself into a ladybug, and crawls onto Lydia’s shoulder. Lydia hears his voice in her mind stating “Get me through the door, and I will handle the rest."

Walking up to Lady Katrina’s estates, Aoth is invisible, there are several guards expecting Lydia and who let them pass.

Lady Katrina is awaiting her, and as she and Lydia speak Aoth appears behind Lady Katrina, as if from thin air. In a matter of seconds he has muttered an incantation. A green mist pours of his hands. Where the mist touches the ground, it starts to bubble and hiss and melt. Before Lady Katrina can react, the mist completely engulfs her.

Aoth can already tell that something has gone wrong as Lady Katrina begins to turn, apparently no worse for the wear. He quickly draws a glowing blade with runic sigils embedded on it, and thrusts the dagger at Lady Katrina’s chest. The blade does not pierce Lady Katrina’s chest, instead making a nails on iron sound as it slides off her to the side. Aoth’s eyes go wide in surprise. Lady Katrina’s hands lengthen into black claws that rip through Aoth’s throat, killing him instantly.

In the White Tower, the Cabal is aware of what has just happened. After a quick and heated discussion they decide it is best to let Lydia handle the situation on her own, in hopes of keeping her cover intact, while they turn to discussing who will succeed Aoth in the Cabal.

In the castle, Lady Katrina suspects that Lydia was part of this assassination attempt, but Lydia convinces Lady Katrina of her innocence and Lady Katrina accepts Lydia as her bard. A guard shows Lydia her room, then she returns to the white tower to make her report to the cabal, who are in shock at Lady Katrina’s display of unsuspected power.

Umara nominates Lydia to replace Aoth in the Cabal, and Bareris nominates Chinicum. Lydia, Chinny and the group retire to discuss this. Lydia decides to support Chinny’s nomination. She genuinely feels that as a half elf he is the best person to help forge an alliance with Calimshan. Although this is the reason they will present to the Cabal, at the same time Lydia has exacted a promise from Chinny, in exchange for ceding the nomination to him, that he will keep her fully informed of everything that is discussed by the Cabal. Although she sees a role for herself in the Cabal in the future, she has realized that she is not yet ready to give up her life as a spy and assassin, and she also knows that knowledge is power.

The White Tower of the Cabal

The group awakens in the Inn, to find Lydia has once again disappeared! Flint questions Chinny, who is unable to provide any enlightenment as to where she has gone or if she is in danger.

Lydia reappears and reveals the truth about her identity as a spy for Surria and proposes an alliance between Surria and Calimshan as desired by the Cabal. Flint leaves the inn in anger. Cid feels that despite the deception, an alliance may prove beneficial. Chinny, whose cover is intact, merely states that if this will help the elves, he is in. Kurshk is also in agreement that an alliance is a good idea.

Flint returns, silent, and resumes eating his breakfast. He is angry, and asks to meet alone with Pensiar before the group goes to meet with the Cabal.

Mialee and Sylvie choose to wait for us at the inn.

Flint talks with Pensiar about how he has felt manipulated and lied to, and treated with disrespect. Pensiar presents her view of Lydia, and then expresses her worries over Chinicum.

They rejoin the others, then we all leave together to go to the Cabal. 3 figures attack us as we try to enter the white tower of the Cabal. We quickly kill them.

We enter the hall of the Cabal and Lydia introduces the others.

Ehput-Ki asks which one is Pensiar, and says he would like to speak with her about the alternate dimension from which she comes.

Chathi states they are hoping to form an alliance with Baldur’s Gate, and that we are effective ambassadors towards this goal.

The Cabal discusses the fact that Lady Katrina has been alerted to the investigation into her connection to the Cult, and debate immediate assassination. Despite Lydia’s plea to be allowed to meet with Lady Katrina and infiltrate her staff as planned, the Cabal decides on assassination.

The deciding vote is cast by Ehput-Ki, who looks into the future and votes for assassination, stating “The future is ever murky…but I see a single vision that says the events of this day will echo through the years to come.”

The decision is made for Cabal member Aoth to sneak in when Lydia enters the estate for her meeting, to gain access to Lady Katrina.

Flint continues to question this decision, but Ehput-Ki tells him that the immediate fallout of this will be negative, but offers hope for the future, in the long run. Aoth promises Chinny to protect Lydia as best he can.

Encounter with Demons & Aspects in the Twilight

We find ourselves in the world of shadows. Before us the old man (Bahamut) stands with staff raised at Indomitable. the scene appears frozen in time, just as we remembered it.

Soon more dragons appear, Insidious and Maleficent leading them. Maleficent declares the age of the dragons is nigh! We find ourselves surrounded by dragons.

The Aspects of Hope and Justice appear and battle the ancient dragons, leaving the lesser dragons to us. Chinicum and Cid transform the red dragon into a frog and then an ant and dispatch the blue dragon. We surround the red dragon and it falls in a matter of moments with Cid landing the final blow.

Insidious and Maleficent threaten the aspects, then fly away.

Flint asks the Aspects of Hope and Justice if we are to help return them to the world of light. Justice informs us that two paths branch before us, and not to choose hastily.

Hope tells us we must stop Sultana if we wish to save the elves.

The Aspects tell us about the rift in the sky by which the dragons (so far just the onyx dragon) are escaping the shadow world.

The near-collapse of Bahamut’s spell seems to create a noticeable effect on some of the creatures here. We can see hundreds of bright yellow eyes emanating from the surrounding buildings, eyes locked on the forms of the old man and Indomitable.

From two side streets, we can see several demonic forms approaching. Two enormous Balor, red demons wielding a sword and whip set aflame.

The Aspects of Hope and Justice stride forward to battle with the Balor, but several smaller demons continue to advance towards the old man. We commence battle with a Yochlol and a Gabrezu.

As we battled these demons the fight between Bahamut and Indomitable speeds up, and it is clear Bahamut is losing.

As the Aspects of Hope and Justice finish off the Balor, they quickly move to aid Bahamut. With the three of them working together, Indomitable makes one last peevish snap of his jaws, and then flies off into the twilight sky.

Bahamut informs us that some of us have information that others in the group need and that we must work together. Then we wake up.

Adventurers Reunited in Surria!

Standing near the entrance of this large hallway, Kurshk, Cid, Flint, Mialee and Pensiar (assisted by three giant spiders conjured by Cid) engage in battle with the assassins and cultists, and kill them all. We enter further and see that it opens into many rooms on all sides. Interesting!

Kurshk takes the lead and heads deep into the central hall, peering into rooms. Suddenly a huge Horned Devil appears directly in front of Kurshk, and attacks!

We engage in battle again. A huge Dao appears and joins forces with the Horned Devil. He demonstrates his enormous powers and we struggle against them both. Kurshk, thoroughly enjoying the flow of the battle, is greatly wounded again and again. Mialee repeatedly heals him. Just as we hope we can prevail against such monsters, a horde of Scouts burst into the room. Flint’s powerful volley of arrows wounds eight of them, but they and dozens more continue to advance.

Sparklegem bursts in! “Cavalries comin’, hold on!” she cries. And then, Lydia bursts in followed by Chinicum, who disperses the horde of scouts with powerful magic. Wellby appears on the scene as well. The tide of the battle turns, and with continued heroic effort, we defeat the enemy.

We are bursting with curiosity about our cohorts’ adventures since we were separated, and Kurshk takes the opportunity to punch Chinicum for turning him into a toad to keep him from killing Lamentation. That score settled, we decide we’d best use our time searching for evidence about Lady Katrina’s connection to the cult, and postpone catching up with each other until later.

Flint, on a hunch, uses a Locate Object divination to find out if there is a General Lamentation communicator device nearby. Bingo! There is one in the easternmost room. Flint leaves it there to allay suspicion. We now are certain of Lady Katrina’s involvement with the Cult.

Mialee calls out; she has found some letters in another room. Flint opens the letters and reads the contents. The five letters are:

1. from Lord Jerrod, a trading of information with Lady Katrina.
2. from Ander Helder, a member of the Sons of Surria, pledging support.
3. from Lady Brightwood, containing no incriminating information.
4. from Cefrey Stormwind, another member of the Son of Surria, a report on the organization.
5. from Bareris, who wishes Lady Katrina to know that she has a friend on the “Cabal.”

Wellby comments wryly, “Apparently there are more cult spies in the Sons than there are actual members.” None of us know what the “Cabal” is.

Flint suddenly feels his skin crawling and shouts out that something is coming. Lady Katrina is heard approaching! “Who killed all of these people? Whoever did this couldn’t have gotten far!” We narrowly escape the palace through the side entrance, hampered by a very recalcitrant Kurshk.

Lydia will be missed if she does not return to the party, so she makes herself invisible and leaps over the wall back into the garden of the palace, to mingle with guests. The rest of us make our way back to the President and the Pig to sober up Kurshk with some paradoxical ale, and to spend the night. No sooner do we go to sleep but we find ourselves back in the now-familiar, dark landscape …

Close to contact with allies ...

We engage in battle with the enemy spies, veterans and scouts, and dispatch them all, then continue toward Kazan. Noticing that some of us are thirsty, we decide to stop in a tavern in a small town. We drink and discreetly make conversation, trying to glean useful information.

The bartender offers little information except for his admiration of the White Tower in Kazan, the “grand jewel” of Surrian architecture. The Surrian whisky is EXTREMELY strong, and although Flint puts down his glass after a couple of swallows, he is several sheets to the wind. Back on the road, he asks Mialee to heal him so that he can function. Mialee disapprovingly grants his request. Kurshk seems unimpaired, perhaps because he is naturally always a bit out of control .

Later we encounter some bandits harassing commoners and taking illegal “tolls” for passing on the trail. Kurshk and Cid face down the bandits and intimidate them into returning the commoners’ gold.

We enter Kazan, receive directions to the Pig and the President, and are immediately accosted by assassins. In painful battle we manage to foil their attack, but draw a great deal of attention to ourselves with our use of magic. Onlookers are particularly awed by the spectacle of Cid as a giant rock, crushing assassins and disappearing.

We finally reach the Pig and the President and relax and enjoy ourselves. Flint stays clear of the hooch and chats with Pensiar, then engages the barkeep in conversation. We learn that two short people (by their descriptions presumably Wellby and Sparkle) are staying at the inn and should be returning soon. And, on cue, a commoner walks in to the bar looking for Kurshk, with a message from Wellby. Wellby and Sparkle are delayed and the commoner does not know where they are, only that he was to keep an eye out for us in case they didn’t return in time to greet us.

We obtain a private room and talk to the commoner, who identifies himself as a member of the Sons of Surria. He tells us that Wellby and Sparkle’s next plan was to try to attend a gala this night, to be held at the palace of Lady Katrina who is a suspected cult member. He suggests that we might want to find a way to hang around near the party, or even find a way in.

We go to the palace and observe. A flash of pink catches our attention as a guest enters the main entrance. Was that Sparkle? A couple of assassins we think we recognize from the street attack enter the side entrance, admitted by a guard. Cid charms the guard into letting us enter the side entrance.

Inside the palace, we can hear a lovely voice singing, and a male voice singing counterpart. But wait! Do Flint’s ears deceive him? Or, could that possibly be the missing Lydia, whose voice we know so well?

Brashly, we push into a side room, where several cultists, jump to their feet and draw their weapons!

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!

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.

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!

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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