Book Four — The City

Chapter1

Escape

While other sorcerers were Flying away with their belongings, the creature Flew across to us. With something of a groan, we asked it if it could fly us back across the moat. It said yes, but it could only lift at most ?? kilograms94. With that restriction, only Gorfang could cross. The toll, said the creature, was 3 pints of blood95. We decided to decline its offer.

After a brief discussion, Gorfang decided to Teleport to Ir’s balloon and hope that Ir was in safe territory. He chanted the spell and disappeared.

One more sorcerer now flew out, perhaps the last one. We yelled at him and he descended towards us. We asked him if he could Fly us across to the other side. He said yes, but asked what we would give him. Boo-boo gave him a magic-point storing crystal, and Thingol gave him a page out of his book, with the spell of Animate Dead on it. We all made it safely to the other side.

Boo-boo now cached all of his equipment, the better to be inconspicuous. Then we all ran back to Ir’s house. He was not there. We then began waiting, with Boo-boo outside watching.

After ten minutes, he received a Telepathic message from Ir. He said that Gorfang was safe and that we should all meet at the largest coastal city north of the swamp.

We then made our way towards the west, to escape from the swamp. On the way to the swamp, we saw a few metal disks, but managed to hide before they spotted us. Overhead, we could occasionally see a sorcerous fight between two or more sorcerers. Fortunately, they took no notice of us.

The next day, while pushing through the swamp, Martlet was bitten by a poisonous snake.

Thingol was unable to cast Neutralize Poison quickly enough, but the poison was not very venomous96.

That night, while we were setting up our camp, the whole swamp suddenly began taking on a whitish color. After about 15 minutes, the entire swamp as far as we could see was entirely white. Uneasy, we settled into our camp, but nothing happened to us that night. Just before morning, the swamp resumed its normal dreary green.

The next day, Empress-day, we traveled for a few hours then came upon an interesting sight.

We saw two metal pillars some 15 meters tall and 2 in diameter. They were about 10 meters apart. The metal was unfamiliar, but looked like iron.

As we investigated, Mugumma stepped between the pillars and disappeared. Shortly thereafter, he reappeared and described what he had seen. He had found himself on a kind of road made out of unfamiliar stone. Behind him he could see the swamp, but everywhere else the view was gray and sparkling, but totally devoid of color. He then stepped back towards the swamp and found himself back with the rest of us.

Upon relating his description to the rest of us, we believed that this was a magical road, a road that leads through the Gray Zone, also known as the Hero Plane.

  1. SIZ 12.
  2. He would lose 3D6 general hit points.
  3. A number of general hit points, the amount of which we do not remember.

Mugumma and Boo-boo were very keen on traveling along the magical road, but Thingol had some very severe doubts about HeroQuesting. Finally, he decided to traverse it.

The road rose over the swamp as it went westward. The further we rose, the more of the blue glow on the northern horizon we could see.

After an unknown amount of time, we came to a branch in the road. One continued on to the west, the other went straight north. Along this northern road lay a small house almost totally blocking the road. Intrigued, Mugumma started down the northern path. But not for long. From out of the house came a creature that looked like a vulture. But it wielded a wicked-looking gutting knife.

“You must pay the toll”, it croaked. “What is it?” asked Mugumma. “A life!” said the creature.

“Is there anything else that would pay the toll?” asked Mugumma. “What else is truly valuable?” asked the creature in reply.

With a small sigh, he asked the creature what lay to the west. It replied, “The land of the Gods!”

Not wanting to pay the toll, and perhaps not wanting to visit the gods, we continued westwards. Finally, the road dipped back towards the swamp. It ended in a pool of water. Mugumma dipped his javelin in the pool and was surprised to see the part of it in the pool resume its normal color. We surmised that this was the other end of the magic road.

Of course we emerged from an actual pool of water, but we were right in that it was the other end. But though on the Hero Plane we should still be in the swamp, on the mundane plane we were back in familiar territory, the plains.

Around us we could see a campsite for a few Kresh wagoneers. Six of the wagons were joined together, three long and two wide, to make one massive wagon.

But the biggest surprise of all was the person standing at the edge of the pool. It was Mister Man! And who should he have with him but 12 jelmres, all of whom instantly pointed straight at Mugumma!

“I knew it! I knew it! I knew you’d eventually come out of that pool! But enough of this, let’s have a drink.” So we had a drink with Mister Man and questions began to fly.

It turned out that we were at an oasis called Othneal in Kothar. Verification proved that it was still the same day as when we had started down the magic road. This was quite interesting since the oasis that we were at was some two days away from the edge of the swamp.

Mister Man told his story of how he had managed to escape the horrible attack on the Kresh wagons. First however, he called a jelmre over that was carrying a large bag. It turned out to be a skin full of brandy. He began passing out drinks, then got on to the story.

When the attack first began, he became and dirty shirt and hid underground. When the main force of the attack was over, he began to make his escape. On the way, he as attacked by two chaos creatures. One of them he Swallowed97 (“I was sick for weeks afterwards”), but how he managed

  1. A very useful, if somewhat disgusting, Trickster Rune spell.

to escape the other he refused to tell us.

He then made his way to the northwest and finally, after about 800 kilometers, found a tribe of Arbennans. He told them exactly what had happened98. Later, he found out that Mugumma was still alive and so he made his way first to the Palarkri Mountains to get his jelmre and then went scouting the places where the magical roads emerged. And that’s how he found us.

Perhaps foolishly, Boo-boo showed Mister Man the scepter they had found inside the castle in the swamp. Mister Man showed some interest in it, then, to the amazement of us all, proceeded to separate the ball from the scepter and then put it back on! When asked how he had done it, he merely replied that one could do anything if one was in the proper state of mind.

Mugumma now became deeply interested in Mister Man’s showing the rest of us some of the neat Trickster things he could do. Mister Man, to impress us, turned himself into an old shoe. Mugumma then took the shoe and buried it in a deep hole. After a few minutes, a mole crawled out of the hole and successfully evaded Mugumma. Soon after, Mister Man came back all covered in damp earth. Mugumma explained that this was his revenge for Mister Man’s trick of separating his body in two.

Having told Mister Man of how we had to get to the coast, he decided that he would accompany us. “After all, every great Quest needs a Trickster.” Of course, his 12 jelmres accompanied him.

Also accompanying us was a young swamp man named Lutro. He was an initiate of Grandfather Turtle, but became bored and so left the swamp in search of adventure.

And so, bright and early on Pamalt-day of the 8th week of spring, we set out. We had with us about 10 days of food and water. Most of it was carried by the jelmres.

Later that day, we were ambushed by a pack of hunting spiders. The jelmres quickly formed a pyramid with Mister Man at the top. He looked around and then pointed, yelling for us to go that way. For a moment we hesitated, then ran.

The way hunting spiders attack is to form a crescent of themselves with the intended victim at the center. Thus, by the time the victim sees the center spiders, the ones on the flank have usually by then completely encircled their prey. With Mister Man’s unique vantage point, he saw where the crescent was and gave us a route to safety if we could outrun the spiders. Our hesitation due to distrust perhaps was fatal.

As we ran, we could see the spiders attempting to complete the circle. There were 9 spiders in the immediate vicinity. If we could get past them, we would be safe. Boo-boo and Lutro immediately tried to cross their paths. The rest of us angled out to try to cross ahead of them.

Boo-boo and Lutro were now attacked by some of the spiders. Two bit Boo-boo, and though none of them penetrated, one of them managed to crawl into Boo-boo’s armor! Lutro managed to parry one of the spiders with his spear, but it hung on as he tried to shake it off.

Meanwhile, Thingol, who was leading Martlet, cast a Damage Resist on himself, then crossed the spider’s path, in front of them. Some of the spiders jumped to the attack, but they were stopped either by Martlet’s armor, or Thingol’s Damage Resistance. Mugumma, on the other hand, crept back towards Mister Man. There he could see spiders trying to crawl up the pyramid and the jelmres ripping them off and hurling them away. Mugumma maliciously aimed a Disruption at one of the jelmres and succeeded, but the jelmre did not fall. Then, realizing that he was still inside the circle, ran.

  1. Recall that we had promised not to tell any Doraddi about the Kresh wagons disappearing….

When we all made our way back to Mister Man after the spiders had left, we found that two of the jelmres had died from the poison.

The next day nothing happened to us. But Lutro, who had been heavily encouraged by Thingol, decided to forswear Grandfather Turtle and became Thingol’s student.

The next day was a Holy day for Mugumma and Boo-boo. So we stopped while they held a worship ceremony honoring their ancestors. Of course, Black Bart was there, demanding his payment for his help. And, of course, they didn’t have it for him then. Black Bart was not amused. Some of the other ancestors made it clear that both Mugumma and Boo-boo should get married and made descendants who would continue to worship their ancestors.

But the most chilling news was that over the next rise, which was about 1 kilometer away, was a bunch of rascullu. Their description matched Thingol’s memory of a castakar, which was a bad-tempered rhino centaur.

Chapter2

The Great Camp Robbery

We all began hasty preparations to leave quietly. But as we were in the process of packing, a near-naked man came crawling into our camp from the general direction of the rascullu camp. He said that his name was Asmoufr and that he had escaped from the rascullus. He also said that the rascullu had captured a Kresh wagon and, since it carried some kegs of wine, the rascullu had celebrated by getting drunk.

Mister Man now began to grin. He declared that he was going to go and steal some stuff from them. After a little persuasion, he also got Boo-boo and Asmoufr to go along. Thingol sent his familiar with Boo-boo in case they got into trouble.

The three of them crawled off while the rest of us made ready for a quick escape. As they got closer, Asmoufr got scared and returned to us. So Mister Man and Boo-boo continued onwards. Boo-boo made a noise while crawling, but none of the rascullu seemed to notice.

Again Boo-boo made a noise while crawling, but this time, one of them got up and, drunkenly, began looking about for the cause of the noise. Boo-boo successfully hid, and soon the rascullu settled down again to sleep. Mister Man, using Mindspeech, said to Boo-boo that they should wait for a half-hour for it to go back to sleep.

After a half-hour, they started towards the camp. Inside it was a large handcart, containing various items. Mister Man suggested, via Mindspeech, that Boo-boo inspect the cart while he went searching among the rascullu.

But just as Boo-boo got close to the cart, he stumbled and fell over some barrel staves, creating quite a racket. All of the rascullu but one woke up, and where would Mister Man be? Right in their midst. Quickly, he disappeared99.

Boo-boo failed to hide, and the rascullu had him. They placed him in the same cage as Asmoufr had been in, perhaps mistaking him for Asmoufr, despite Boo-boo’s lacking two arms.

After fifteen minutes, the carrot turned back into Mister Man, who promptly hid himself.

After two hours, when the rascullu had again fallen asleep, Mister Man crawled to Boo-boo. There was a brief discussion as to how to get Boo-boo out of the cage. Finally, after Mister Man had robbed the rascullu, he cast Become Dirty Shirt on both himself and Boo-boo (using Mindlink), and Thingol’s familiar dragged them both to safety.

So, after about 4 hours time, Mister Man and Boo-boo snuck back into our camp with 2 boomerangs, an axe, a tatooing kit, 5 waterskins, a flint and 4 obsidian knives, and a left arm band. What a fantastic amount of treasure. We quickly got out of there, hoping to be well away when the rascullu awoke.

Later that day, Ga-day of the ninth week, Mister Man said that there were now two choices we could make. We could go to Gujelmre, because his jelmre wished to go there, or we could wander the plains, looking for some Doraddi or Kresh who might be able to restore Boo-boo’s arm and Martlet’s intelligence. We decided to go to Gujelmre, but to keep a sharp lookout for any Doraddi or Kresh.

But our food supply was getting low. So we spent the next day hunting for food. Thingol managed to shoot a boar, so we spent the next day cooking and preserving it as best we could.

  1. He had become a carrot.

The next day, while walking, we came across an oasis. But this oasis was different, for there was absolutely no sign of human habitation. There were no crops growing for a person to harvest, no sign that there had ever been humans here. Mister Man said that this oasis was either sacred, tabu, or very dangerous. We decided to camp for the night, but away from the oasis itself.

This, in retrospect, was a very bad move. Mugumma was on watch, aided by his fetch. At the same time as he heard something, and then saw it, it was upon him. The creature was humanoid, with a tail, and shiny skin, perhaps an exoskeleton or chitin. It grabbed him by both legs, doing 15 points total, and lifted him high in the air. At this noise, Asmoufr, Boo-boo, and Martlet woke up.

The creature threw Mugumma at Asmoufr, but it missed. Then, quick as light, it ran over to Asmoufr and picked him up too. Boo-boo, who had an atlatl ready, threw at the creature. The spear lodged in the creature’s tail. Mugumma was lying on the ground, making no movement at all.

Lutro and Thingol now woke up as Asmoufr missed it while he was held. The creature then, using Asmoufr as a weapon, struck at Martlet, who had moved up to engage the creature. Martlet didn’t parry and so took damage to his right arm. Asmoufr also took damage. Martlet now struck at the creature and hit it squarely in the chest. As Martlet withdrew his sword, he could see that it was slowly dissolving in the creature’s blood.

Boo-boo had now gotten another spear ready to throw, but it tinked. The creature now threw Asmoufr at Boo-boo, hitting him and knocking him over, with Asmoufr on top. Martlet missed the creature. Thingol readied a spell as Lutro got out his bow. Mister Man had by now crawled over to where Asmoufr and Boo-boo lay and began Healing them.

Martlet hit the creature in the right arm, damaging his sword some more. The creature hit Martlet, but he parried the blow with his shield. Asmoufr fired an arrow, but it shattered on the creature’s skin. Thingol finished his spell, but it failed to go off.

Boo-boo continued to heal as Asmoufr got up and moved to engage the creature. He got there just in time to be hit by one of Lutro’s arrows. The creature struck again at Martlet, but again he parried. Martlet himself missed his blow. The creature again struck at Martlet, but fortunately it missed.

Thingol’s spell now manifested itself and he managed to Palsy the creature’s right arm.

Martlet, who decided to parry twice, had no opportunity to take advantage of this opening. Asmoufr missed with his axe as the creature now brought its tail into use, wrapping it around Martlet’s left leg.

Thingol failed another spell as the creature struck again at Martlet, who again parried. Asmoufr missed as well as the creature tried, but failed, to pull Martlet off his feet with his tail.

Thingol now managed to cast Damage Resistance on Martlet. Boo-boo, who had healed himself and gotten another missile ready, threw, but missed. Martlet again parried the creature’s blow. His own blow tinked. The creature again tried to pull Martlet off his feet, but failed.

Nearly simultaneously, Martlet and Asmoufr connected, hitting it in the chest and the right arm. These blows knocked the creature over, and on closer inspection, the creature was dead.

While Healing everybody, Mister Man came out of his hiding place to tell us what the creature was. It was, he said, a grue.

Mugumma was dead too. Mister Man was very sorrowful, but he said that a shaman only stayed dead if he wanted to, or he didn’t have the power to bring himself back to life. We held a brief ceremony, then left the cursed oasis far behind.

The next day we encountered nothing. The day after that we hunted again to replenish our food supply. The next day, we spotted a herd of titanotheres, but not being stupid, circled around

them.

On the next morning, Gata-day of the 10th week of spring, we saw a bunch of tents set up.

Since there were no wagons, we presumed them to be Doraddi. We now had a small problem. Who was to be our champion? After much thought, we decided Mister Man should be our champion. He engaged the other champion in a fire-making contest and beat the other’s Ignite spell by pouring one out of his bag. The other champion proposed a contest to see who could hop on one leg the longest. Of course he won.

Asmoufr was intrigued by the bags Mister Man had. Questioning him incessantly, he found out what was in the other bags. One had a 100 foot tall tree inside. Another had wind inside. The last he said was a secret, but later told us that it contained a complete turkey dinner.

We asked these Doraddi if they had the spells to Regrow Limb or Restore Intelligence.

They had the former, but not the latter. In return for some metal, Boo-boo received the spell on his arm. The entire process would take about eight weeks, but the woman who cast the spell suggested that he not travel for at least two weeks.

So we spent the two weeks with the Doraddi. Thingol began teaching Lutro the rudiments of sorcery. We all wondered where Gorfang was and if he was safe.

After the two weeks, Boo-boo’s arm was beginning to grow out again. We continued on, towards Gujelmre. Out of the bag containing the tree, there was now a tiny twig pushing out of it. Who had tampered with it?

For eight days we walked the plains. Mister Man now showed us another of his Trickster spells. By casting it, he was able to redistribute his body mass, thus, for instance, stretching one arm by pushing the other one into his body. Or, by pressing down on his shoulders, one could cause his neck to elongate.

On the next day, Witch-day of the first week of summer, we spotted three Kresh wagons heading to the north. With Martlet engaging in an archery contest, and the other champion in an adding contest, we offered to help pull their wagon for safety and transportation, a standard transaction.

It turned out that they were going to Gujelmre to trade. After another two weeks, on Six-day of the third week, we reached Gujelmre. Floating the wagons across the river, we entered into the town.

Chapter3

Gujelmre

The whole town of Gujelmre was filled with buildings made of paper. As we took in the sights, the Kresh began trading with the jelmres. They traded spices for small crystals that the jelmres produced from their mouths.

We asked around and found out that the jelmres’ magic was based on emotions. All they had to do was put themselves in the correct emotion and the effect would occur. If they wished, they could produce the crystals that contained the essence of that emotion. Of course, the jelmre that did so could never again experience that emotion.

Some of the emotions that the Kresh were trading for included hate, anger, and compassion (some 50 or more variants of this were in the jelmre vocabulary).

We wondered if they had any emotion that could cure Martlet’s loss of intelligence. With Mister Man acting as middleman, he said that they had an emotion that would cure Martlet, but their conditions were this. The chosen person would be placed in Mindlink, and then that person would, in order to get the item, have to do whatever the jelmre said to do. If he refused, then all we would have to do was to repay the cost of the Mindlink.

Mister Man said that he could not reveal what they were going to do, but he said that it would hurt, both physically and mentally, but that the damage done would not be serious. Boo-boo was excluded from being the person chosen.

After a few minutes, Thingol volunteered to be the victim. The Mindlink was established, and he was told to put his little fingers in his mouth, spread his mouth wide, then bite them off, chew, and swallow them. He was given fifteen minutes to decide whether or not to do it.

As Thingol experienced the mental agony, the jelmre he was Mindlinked to was sweating and shaking. Thingol was weighing the gain of Martlet’s intelligence versus the skills he might lose if he was maimed.

After 10 minutes, he made his choice.

After it was over, the jelmre fell on the ground, writhing, and finally spat out a huge, ugly, angular green and black crystal the size of a human fist.

Then he produced a smaller, rose colored crystal and said that the one who felt the most compassion for Martlet should use it. Thingol, his hands bandaged, did so. Martlet regained half his former intelligence100.

To regrow his fingers, the jelmres said that another of us would have to undergo the same kind of deal. Lutro volunteered and was seated at a table with a plate. A live rabbit was brought to him and he was told to grab it in both hands, and then to eat it. The whole thing. And he was only allowed to use his mouth.

Lutro did not later eat dinner with us.

The crystal that the jelmre produced to regrow Thingol’s fingers was given to Boo-boo.

Thingol’s little fingers were regrown, halfway. It seemed that the magic of the jelmres only restored things halfway.

100From 5 back to 10.

Despite what deals the jelmres had done, Boo-boo decided that he wanted to get a group compassion crystal, hoping that could be used to Heal us all should we get in a jam.

The jelmres took him and put him inside one of their buildings. Inside, he was given everything he desired: food, drink, music, a cool breeze, piles of gold and magic crystals, and women. He was left in there for four and a half days.

After Boo-boo was let out and given his crystal, we left. Deciding that Gujelmre was slightly safer than traversing the wilderness, we headed east through Gujelmre. On Ga-day of the 5th week, we saw a whole line of jelmres walking with their arms on the shoulders of the jelmre in front of it. It took half a day to travel around them.

The next evening we reached a river, which Mister Man declared marked the border of Gujelmre. We decided to wait until the next day to cross it.

The river was about 20 meters wide. Mister Man crossed on Martlet’s shoulders while the rest of us held hands while crossing. Despite our precautions, Lutro and Asmoufr were washed downstream by the current. Asmoufr was able to drag himself to the far shore. Lutro was never seen again though Martlet dove back in to try to find him. We could not believe that a worshiper of Grandfather Turtle could not swim worth a clack101.

Three days later, we met a Doraddi hunting party. With them was Tudor, Lutro’s brother, also a worshiper of Grandfather Turtle. He was looking for his brother. We told him the sad tale of his death. Saddened, Tudor decided to travel with us.

For the next seven days, we mixed hunting with traveling, for we had very little supplies. We had shot and cooked a small rhinoceros, and later a horse(??).

On Ga-day of the seventh week, off in the distance what looked like horsemen. A closer look revealed them to be centaurs. Mister Man said that centaurs had been made by evil sorcerers of the evil empire that had ruled here long ago. Not wishing to meet them, we all concealed or hid ourselves. Amazingly, we were all successful, and they all galloped by us.

Two days later, we came upon an encampment of Kresh. They won both contests and we were forced to squander our last reserves of supplies for a feast. We did find out from the wagonmaster that we were about four days travel away from the coast. One interesting thing about the wagonmaster was that he wore a necklace that contained six jelmre crystals.

We purchased supplies and continued onwards. After another three days, while hunting Thingol and Martlet saw a titanothere tending her calf. The calf fell to Thingol’s crossbow, but the mother spotted us and began to charge. Thingol cast Damage Resistance on Martlet as he shot his bow and impaled the titanothere in the left front leg. The titanothere hit Martlet, but the Damage Resistance and his parry saved him. As the cow wheeled around, Martlet Disrupted it, and then Thingol cast Palsy. It affected the cow’s left hind leg, felling it. Then they ran back to tell the rest of us.

The next day the cow was still tending her wounds, staying in the same area as her calf. Mister Man then took the situation in hand. He became a frog, hopped over to the cow, Healed it, then hopped away. The titanothere got up and went away. We spent the next day cooking it.

The next day, Empress-day of the 8th week, we saw six Kresh wagons rolling by. One of them, the lead wagon, was huge. Its wheels were some 50 feet in diameter, and the wagon appeared to be made of gold. We learned from its wagonmaster that it was merely gold plate. But, said he, he had seen only two wagons richer than his.

  1. And what about Thingol and his Skin of Life spell? He forgot!

On Pamalt-day, we were ambushed by 10 broos. Four of them had heads like lions. They wielded whips and had scimitars as well. One had the head of a jack-o-bear, another like a minotaur. Another was man-shaped and looked to be wearing plate armor, the eighth was shaped somewhat like a walktapus. The last two were like snakes or slugs.

Upon seeing them, we immediately began to run. But they were faster. So, we turned and prepared to fight.

We had left the two snake-like creatures somewhat behind, their method of movement slower than ours. But the rest were just behind us. Just as we turned, Mister Man was Disrupted and fell down. Both Boo-boo and Asmoufr were Slowed, but since we were in melee, it didn’t matter too much.

As they charged us, Martlet Disrupted the minotaur broo. Tudor fired an arrow at the man, but tinked. Now they engaged us in melee: the jack-o-bear on Asmoufr, the walktapus on Boo-boo, the minotaur on Martlet, and the man on Tudor.

Thingol now shot a Firearrowed crossbow bolt at the walktapus, but it hit a tentacle, shriveling it. Tudor Disrupted the man, damaging it in the right leg. Boo-boo missed his throw with his atlatl. Martlet chopped at the minotaur and hit it in the right leg, causing it to fall. Asmoufr missed the jack-o-bear broo.

Two tentacles from the broo grabbed onto Boo-boo’s arm, immobilizing it and stopping the effects of his Regrow Limb. The jack-o-bear hit Asmoufr, damaging his left leg and felling him.

The man missed his blow at the same time as the lion-head broos reached us.

The lions now whipped their whips. The first hit Thingol in his left leg. Another wrapped itself around Boo-boo’s atlatl and yanked it out of his hand. Two of them hit Martlet but tinked. Tudor tried to Disrupt the man, but failed the spell. In return, the man missed. Boo-boo failed to Disrupt the walktapus. The walktapus then wrapped another tentacle around Boo-boo’s right leg. Martlet swung at the downed minotaur, hitting its left leg. While Asmoufr lay on the ground, unable to fight for the moment, the jack-o-bear would have hit him with devastating effect had not Mister Man Extended his arm and poked it in the eyes.

The lions cracked their whips, but they all missed their targets. The man missed, but Tudor did not. Unfortunately for him, he tinked. The walktapus now grappled Boo-boo and began to advance towards the rear. Martlet plunged his sword into the minotaur’s abdomen, killing it. Mister Man again forked his fingers at the jack-o-bear, but his hand was parried and grabbed. Asmoufr then struck at it, wounding it in the left arm.

By now the two snake/slug broos had reached the scene. Asmoufr threw his boomerang from the ground, attempting to hit the walktapus broo. He missed. Two of the whips scored, one on Tudor, one on Martlet, but they both tinked. Yet again Tudor failed to Disrupt his opponent.

Thingol shot his crossbow at the walktapus, hitting its right arm. The man missed again. One of the snake broos slithered towards Martlet. Martlet himself moved towards the walktapus broo and managed to hit its head, to no seeming effect. In its clutches, Boo-boo pulled out a dart and tried to cast Firearrow on it. It failed, so he struck at it, but tinked. The jack-o-bear broo now tried to bit Mister Man’s hand, but he managed to slither out of its grasp and tried to hit its eyes again. But the broo was too fast and grabbed his hand again. The one snake now attacked Martlet, but he parried. The other snake-like broo brought forth one of its tentacles. From it opened a mouth which shot forth a tongue which wrapped itself around Tudor’s abdomen.

Boo-boo now tried to invoke the power of his crystal. He was unable to get into the proper emotion for the crystal to activate. All of the whips missed as the walktapus accelerated away from the battle. The tongue-spitting broo now tried to pull Tudor off his feet, but failed. The man again missed Tudor, but Tudor managed to penetrate the man’s armor in his right arm. Martlet hit the snake in its body. The jack-o-bear again tried to bite Mister Man’s hand, but he was able to bend it

away from its teeth. Asmoufr now struck at the jack-o-bear, hitting it in the right arm.

Again Boo-boo was unable to get into the proper emotional mood for the crystal to activate. One of the whips hit, but failed to entangle the target’s weapon. The one tongue failed to pull Tudor towards it, but it raised another tentacle from which opened another mouth from which shot forth another tentacle which wrapped itself around Tudor’s left leg. The man missed again. Tudor tinked. Martlet now chopped the snake creature in two. Mister Man squirmed his hand free and poked at the jack-o-bear’s eyes. Asmoufr missed his blow. Thingol now cast a Palsy with Multispell 3 on it. He managed to Palsy 3 of the lion-headed broos in the leg.

Boo-boo now managed to activate the crystal. We all felt much better, more magical, and less tired102. The last lion broo missed with its whip. Tudor now tried to call on Divine Intervention to take him back home. Grandfather Turtle declined to do this. In return, the two tongues pulled Tudor towards the broo. But Martlet came running over and chopped one of the tentacles of the slug-like broo. He struck the arm in two and one of the tentacles around Tudor went limp.

The slug broo now called out to stop fighting. In return, it said, for us letting them go, they would return Boo-boo to us. We accepted the deal. Boo-boo was returned to us, and the remaining broos left.

One day after that horrendous encounter, we reached the coast. Tudor was able to lead us towards the largest city. Or rather the largest village.

The village was comprised of some 80 huts. They were built on the bones of a large sea creature, and they had roofs of turf. The largest of all was about 5 by 7 meters. But behind them all we could see a balloon. And coming to greet us were Gorfang and Ir.

  1. The effect of the crystal was to add 2D6 to our hit points, 1D6 to our personal magic points, and 1D6 fatigue if our fatigue was less than zero.

Chapter4

The Turtle People

The name of the city was Kor-sofal. The inhabitants were turtle people, Tudor’s people.

And this was his home village.

But all eyes and ears were on Gorfang and Ir. We asked for a description of the battle between the Philosopher and the Master. Ir related the battle.

The Philosopher crossed through the barrier riding on Sreng. The basilisks were in front of Sreng. The Master’s sorcerers began to fly in, though they were occasionally killed by the basilisks. Finally, the living chain flew in at Sreng. While Sreng chopped it into pieces, the Master was able to entangle both Sreng and the Philosopher in a kind of energy web. The basilisks seemed to lose interest in the battle, and began to wander off. Perhaps the web interfered with the Philosopher’s control over them. The parts of the chain then wrapped itself around the web and carried both Sreng and the Philosopher off to the south. But just as they were being carried off, all of the Master’s sorcerers split.

While they had waited there for us, they had nothing else to do but learn how to fish. Besides Gorfang and Ir, there were two other non-turtle people here. They were Joseph and

Fenric. Joseph was a scholar from Onlaks who had come to Kor-sofal to try to teach the people a written language. Fenric was a Harmasti from the Mari Mountains. He had left when Tim’s egg had gotten to be 10 feet in diameter. Both of them seemed interested in accompanying us.

The first thing we wished to do was to speak to the city’s leader. But all the people we asked said that we should go to the lagoon. So we went to the lagoon, except for Boo-boo. He went off by himself and didn’t return for a week.

The lagoon was about 200 yards wide and circular, with clear water. At its deepest, it looked to be about 20 feet. Swimming in the lagoon were a few fish and a small shark. We wondered where the leader was, but could see no one in sight. Tudor finally informed us. The leader of the village was a giant turtle who lived underneath the sand for most of the year.

According to the legends of the turtle people, they did not descend from humans, but were rather turtles who acquired the power of speech and became human in shape. The leader of the people, a turtle, comes to the surface only once a year. The people themselves dispense justice by not talking to the offender if the offense is minor, or driving him away if it is major.

Some two weeks journey (about 1200 kilometers) to the north is the Tortugax Archipelago, a major center of civilization of the turtle people.

We now had to make a decision as to where we were to go. Our eventual destination was Tarien, on the western side of Pamaltela. We did not wish to walk the length of Pamaltela. We had hoped that we could find a ship large enough to take us there here at the coast, but the largest boats they had here were small coracles, about 8 feet in diameter, made of turtle shells.

So what we decided to do was to either hire or purchase enough boats to get us to the Tortugax Archipelago, and then from there to Onlaks, where Joseph assured us there were ships. The decision was made to boat there because, if we were to walk directly towards either the Archipelago or Onlaks, we would have to travel through a dense jungle which, according to Joseph, no one who had gone in had ever come out.

The question before us now was how we would get to the Archipelago. We could either hire or purchase boats. Hiring was preferable, since none of us except Tudor knew how to handle a boat,

but each person hired could only carry one person, the boats being only large enough to carry two people plus supplies.

We asked the people what they valued. They said that when the Kresh came to trade with them, the Kresh gave them copper cooking vessels. Metal knives would also be useful, they said, since they used only those made from turtle shells, which quickly dulled.

When we asked how much it would take to transport one of us up to the Archipelago, the average price was about 18 metal knives. Since this was far beyond our means, we decided to purchase our own boats and sail them.

Boo-boo by now had returned, a full shaman. The general price to buy a coracle was about 4 knives or so. But when we offered spell spirits instead, they all wanted them. For four boats, we would have to supply the owners with a silver cooking pot and 3 spell spirits.

Tudor now set out to train us in handling the boats. All of us, that is, except for Boo-boo, who was kept busy capturing spell spirits. Fortunately for him, he had encountered the spirit of Mugumma, who exorcised the spell spirits when they possessed Boo-boo.

For the next 9 weeks, we trained. However, since we were practicing in weather that could quickly turn nasty (we were training in the middle of the hurricane season), we got less time to train than might be expected. During that time, we subsisted on the food that Tudor had and occasionally paid some of the children of the village to collect some turtle eggs for us.

Finally, after the 9 weeks, we were ready to leave. We were provisioned with the food that Tudor and his family had saved and preserved. In the first boat, the only one propelled by sea turtle, were Tudor the only one who could control the turtle, Boo-boo, and Mister Man. In the second were Thingol and Fenric. In the third were Martlet and Asmoufr. And finally in the fourth were Joseph and Gorfang. Ir decided that he would go off on his own.

We left on Ga-day of the seventh week of autumn. For the next week we saw only a few killer whales, and assorted birds. It was now that we reached the edge of the jungle. Tudor’s boat was propelled by the sea turtle which Tudor’s mother had summoned. The rest of us paddled.

On Ga-day of the eighth week, while rowing close to shore, Thingol’s boat began to leak. They rowed to the scanty shore but were unable to repair the boat. Joseph brought his boat in to pick up first Thingol and Fenric. He had transferred the two into Tudor’s boat and was heading back to shore to pick up the provisions. But when he reached shore, Martlet’s boat ripped its bottom out on a hidden reef. Martlet grabbed for all of his gear, but was only able to recover his weapons and his helmet, breastplate, and greaves. Asmoufr lost all except for one boomerang.

Thingol then cast Skin of Life on Martlet so that he could try to recover more of his equipment. He was unable to find it, but on the bottom, weighted down he found a 4 meter long trident. He brought it to the surface to show the rest of us. It appeared to be made of some kind of silvery metal103. But we insisted that he put it back, since it was obviously placed there and weighted so that the current would not sweep it away.

So Martlet went back down to put the trident back. But as he reached the bottom, he saw, swimming towards him, a shape in the water. As it got closer, he could see more details; it was about 9 feet long, with green scales, fins, and claws.

Martlet threw the trident as best he could at the creature, then began to swim desperately for the surface. The creature grabbed the trident, then began to swim towards Martlet.

Seeing this from above, Gorfang successfully Demoralized it. Tudor managed to Disrupt it

  1. It was, of course, sa-metal, or aluminum.

in the abdomen, but Boo-boo failed his spell cast. The creature now threw the trident at Martlet. Fortunately, it missed. The creature again started after Martlet, claws outstretched.

Martlet broke the surface and was quickly hauled into the boat. As the creature surfaced, Boo-boo threw his javelin, wounding the creature in the left arm. Thingol then cast a Palsy spell and paralyzed the creature’s chest. It sank slowly back under water. We hurriedly redistributed ourselves, then sailed off as fast as we could.

Exactly one week later, a flock of big blue birds that we saw on the surface of the water flew up, then dived down on us. Their apparent target was our dried fish. We were able to decoy the birds by throwing some of it overboard, but it cost us much food.

But we managed to reach the archipelago in another five days, and we landed on one of the islands on Six-day of the ninth week.

The next morning we examined our surroundings better. The island, if island you call it, we were on was about 100 feet square. Since there was no one in sight, we headed for another island, larger, and with trees.

We left our boats on the beach. The trees were not trees as such, but were rather like scrub oak. There were some small bushes that sprouted red berries. Since the island was about 4 square miles in area, we explored the island.

As soon as we had started, we noticed a small pillar of smoke perhaps coming from the other side of the island. Quickly crossing the island, we saw that we were not alone.

About 40 yards from shore, an old man and two younger ones were busily cooking crabs.

The old man looked to be about 50 years old, the other two around 30. There was a boat on the beach, made of wood. All of them were silent.

Tudor stepped forwards and greeted the man in his language, Tortugax. The old man replied in the same language, with a strange accent. Once communication was established, we asked a string of questions.

The largest population center was a place called Kingtown. The nearest population center, though, was called Gartoch. He gave us a string of directions to Gartoch, but Tudor could not understand them. He said that Gartoch would be about 8 hours for him, but for us a lot longer. We asked the man to draw us a map, but he seemed confused as to why he should draw a map. We convinced him to do so, and he pulled out a large board, covered with strange symbols and began to copy from it.

The map he produced was utterly incomprehensible. There was no scale, and no absolute directions. All directions were relative, generally parallel to the spine of an island. Landmarks abounded, some only visible at low tide.

We then asked if we could hire him to take us to Gartoch, since none of us could possibly understand the map. After an initial surprise that we could not understand the map, he said that he might. An offer of a metal dagger finally convinced him. He said that he would leave one of his sons here, and pick him up later.

So we left the island for Gartoch. The old man did not use a turtle to drive his boat. Rather, he used oars or a sail. After about 6 hours, the old man said that we should sleep first otherwise we might miss the smoke pillar which was a landmark for Gartoch.

That night, while we were asleep, some of us heard a large bellowing noise coming from the water. But the darkness defeated our eyes and we could not tell what it was. In the morning we asked the man what could have made a noise like that. He said that it could have been a sea elephant,

a kraken, a grandfather turtle, but that it was probably either a margump or a dying whale. A margump, he said, was very large and very dangerous. A close description might be that it was all eyes and mouth.

The next morning we could see the smoke pillar only a short distance away. We reached it in a quick half hour.

The city of Gartoch consisted of about 20 ramshackle buildings. There were some trees on the island. On the beach was the half-gone carcass of some creature. We estimated that we had come a distance of about 20 or 30 miles.

Seeing the lack of civilization, we asked the old man about Kingtown and Sofli. He told us that Kingtown was the largest population center, but that Sofli was where the ships from Charth landed and traded. But, it was further from here than Kingtown.

We now asked the old man if he would take us to Sofli. He seemed unwilling until we offered him the remaining silver pot. Then he said that he would take us. But first we would need new boats. The old man said that we would leave at noon.

Tudor, Joseph and Fenric all went into the town to try to buy more boats. After an initial rebuff, they found a woman who asked Joseph how badly we wanted them. Joseph said that we were fairly desperate. The woman then asked if he was from Charth. He replied in the affirmative. The woman then said that he could have the boats if he married her daughter, Melia. Melia was an average looking girl of about 20 years or so. Joseph said, after a minutes thought, that he would return soon with his answer.

Joseph returned to us and asked our opinion. The old man explained the marriage customs of the turtle people. When married, the woman owns all the property of her spouse. Divorce is made under mutual agreement, mostly with one spouse offering the other enough money for the other’s consent.

While this was going on, Tudor and Fenric went back out to find more boats. All of the people said that they were afraid of crossing Melia’s mother by offering us boats.

Finally, Joseph went back to talk to Melia. He wanted to know how she would feel about him traveling while she lived in Charth. Melia’s mother replied that she, Melia, would not mind.

Melia’s mother made Joseph lay out objects that represented all of his belongings. But in the middle of this, Joseph’s clothes turned invisible! Mister Man had played a devastating joke. Joseph chased Mister Man to no avail. Finally he returned to Melia and asked her to marry him. Melia’s mother critically examined all of his belongings, then accepted.

Once the marriage was known, it was declared that there would be a great feast. All of us attended the new bride and groom. There was all manner of sea food, crab, fish, and blubber. To drink there was water, berry-juice, and blubber-wine.

The next day the old man said that he would return to the island and pick up his son, then we would begin our journey to Sofli. Thus, on Witch-day of the tenth week of autumn, we set out.

The boats that Melia’s mother had were two two-man boats and two one-man boats. Into the latter we placed most of our supplies for the journey. The old man, his two sons, Tudor, and Joseph were controlled the boats. With us went Joseph’s new wife Melia.

After 11 days, the old man said that we were traveling through a portion of the archipelago that no one lived in. Because of this, many dangerous sea creatures lived here. But, he said, it cut time off of our journey. We accepted the risk.

But late on the first day in, on Pamalt-day of the twelfth week, in the distance a creature surfaced. The old man yelled out that it was a grandfather turtle, a kind of turtle that is carnivorous. He also said that he and his sons, plus Melia and Tudor could not attack it lest they go to hell when they died. The turtle began to head straight for us.

Boo-boo threw a Disruption, hitting it in a flipper. Thingol prepared a Palsy spell. Martlet readied his sword. Fenric began to string his bow. Gorfang cast a spell on his crossbow.

The turtle was getting closer as Boo-boo again threw a Disruption, but the spell failed.

Thingol cast his Palsy spell, but it was not intense enough. Martlet cast a Disruption and hit it in the head. Fenric missed with his arrow. Gorfang aimed a shot to the turtle’s head and his bolt managed to penetrate the thick skin.

Boo-boo again failed a Disrupt, but Martlet did not, slightly damaging the turtle in the body. The turtle now was fairly close to Tudor’s turtle. It opened its mouth and swallowed Tudor’s turtle in one gulp. Fenric and Gorfang had both aimed shots at the head, but only Fenric hit.

Boo-boo yet again failed a Disruption. Tudor cast Protection on himself. Martlet cast Disruption, hitting it in the head. The turtle had by now come up against Tudor’s boat, which also held Gorfang and Martlet. Fenric missed his shot, but Gorfang scored against its head. The turtle, perhaps thinking twice about the encounter, now submerged.

With none of us injured, we continued on, though Tudor’s boat now had to be rowed. The very next day we reached the town of Sofli.

Chapter5

Sofli and Charth

The town of Sofli looked like it could house about 1000 people. There was about 200 buildings and one large one that seemed to be made out of whale bones.

There was a long good beach that we could land at. Docked at a pier was a large galley that had 30 sets of oars. Surely we could get passage on this ship.

The old man bade us farewell and left with his two sons. We went in search of the captain of the vessel.

The large building turned out to be a trading hall. There were no walls, only pillars. There were about a dozen men selling things with many more walking up and down looking. While we went in search of the captain, Boo-boo got separated from us.

Finally we met the captain of the vessel. He told us to meet him at his ship later that evening.

As we left, we met Boo-boo. He had traded some of his stuff for some jars of fermented berries. Mister Man was later able to con Boo-boo out of about a quarter of them.

That evening, we went aboard the ship. We were met by the captain who was named Garth.

In his cabin, we attempted to come to an arrangement.

From Sofli, Charth was about 600 kilometers away. The journey would take about ten days, depending on the current. In coin, we had a total of about 1500 pennies.

To take us all, the captain wanted 100 pennies per day for all of us. Since we did not think we could afford this, we attempted to bargain. Finally, we reached an agreement. For a matrix to Transform Water to Beer, a scroll that had the sorcery spell of Telepathy, and Gorfang’s slarge- metal and stone arbalest, plus 160 pennies, he would take us to Charth.

The next day, the last day of autumn, we left. It took us only eight days to reach Charth, arriving on Ga-day of the second week of winter.

Charth looked like a city that some of us were familiar with. It was walled, yet straddled a river that went through it. Its population was around 2000 according to Joseph. There was a little farming outside the walls, but mostly the people fished.

Economically, guilds ran most of the industries. There was a sorcerer’s guild, a forester’s, a healer’s, a ship’s captain’s and so on. The government was a type of oligarchy. The guild leaders were elected to the office, each guild having a different length of office. Though the religion was influenced by Pamaltelan deities, there were temples to Issaries and Lhankor Mhy, Chalana Arroy and Dormal, as well as Humakt. The local language was a dialect of Fonritian.

The elves in the Dadar Jungle, of which Charth was the easternmost city, were generally neutral to humans. Further north in the Onlaks Jungle, for which the area of land is known, the elves are hostile to humans.

We first went to Joseph’s parents’ house. His father seemed slightly distressed at his marriage, but accepted Melia as his new daughter-in-law. He offered all of us shelter at his house until the end of the week. We accepted gratefully.

A quick stop at the local Chalana Arroy temple proved fruitless. They did not have the spell of Restore Intelligence. The priestess there said that the temples in Westel or Yanchi might have it.

As we reviewed our situation, things looked grave. We didn’t have enough money to hire a boat to take us to Fonrit, nor did we have enough to get to any local ruins and then have enough to survive. At the time, our only recourse seemed to be to chance walking through the jungle.

Then we remembered the scepter. We had wanted to get rid of it, and if we could get a good enough price for it, our monetary problems were solved. So the next day we went to the Issaries market. We found a merchant, named Fusial, who seemed willing to deal.

He had items that he would be willing to trade for, but he gave us some advice. The scepter was extremely powerful and extremely dangerous for anyone who did not have morals to possess. For that person would use it to drain other people’s POW for his or her own benefit. What we wanted to do was to ultimately give it someone who could defend it against the former owner. There was such power in the elf forests, in the hands of a powerful elf leader.

Since we seemed reticent to undertake the dangerous journey through the jungle just to give away our most powerful magic item, he offered us a proposal. If we were to use the scepter with Boo-boo creating magic items, he would pay us for them. We wanted some time to think about it, so we went back to Joseph’s parent’s place.

There followed a fierce debate. Gorfang was the main proponent of us trading the scepter away. His eye was on shield with a dragon head on it that breathed fire. But most of the rest of us liked the idea of using the scepter to make money. In the end, we decided to accept Fusial’s proposal.

So, for the next eight weeks, while we placed magic points into the scepter, Thingol taught Boo-boo all he knew of Enchanting and of the art of Ceremony. Tudor got a job helping a fisherman, and was not always available to contribute his magic points. Gorfang took up helping a local blacksmith, while Martlet became a manual laborer helping the forester’s guild. Mister Man took Asmoufr under his wing and they quickly gained a reputation as vagabonds.

With Tudor, Melia, Joseph, Thingol, and Martlet twice sacrificing a point of POW, we filled the scepter with six points of POW. Now Boo-boo began his Enchanting. His first was a success, creating a matrix for Bind Sylph. The second, also a Bind Sylph, failed. So, for our efforts, we gained 700 pennies at a cost of 496 pennies in living expenses, for a profit of 204 pennies.

The next day, Six-day of the twelfth week of winter, Fusial came back to us. He told us that he might be interested as hiring us. If we were hired, we would be his ‘troubleshooters’. But for him to hire us, we would have to prove that we were competent, by going through the jungle and meeting him at Neuteboom. He would carry the scepter, so that if we were killed it would not be lost. We could choose one item out of his hoard to take along with us. We would have until the end of Spring to reach Neuteboom.

Seeing no better offer, we accepted. His items, besides the dragon shield were: a branch from a tree made of stone; a living animated hand; a glass vial containing hydra acid; some shrunken head; a quiver of eight arrows that, when shot, turned into Firearrows; a blue and a green furstone, a stone covered with fur.

After much argument, it was decided that we would take the stone branch. If necessary, we could use it to bribe or gift our way out of trouble, if we should run into elves.

During the Sacred Time, some of us engaged in other activities besides the normal ceremonies.. For instance, Boo-boo called upon all of his ancestors to ask their permission for him to join the cult of Pamalt. They agreed if he would double his obligations to his ancestors, to show that he valued his ancestors above all.

Boo-boo also tried to get married. He went to a local tribe of ancestor worshipers, who happened to be cannibals, to find a bride. Needless to say, he found no one who would marry him.

Thingol managed to find a Malkioni sorcerer who was willing to perform the ceremony of Worship Invisible God. The sorcerer, though Malkioni, was of the Sedalpist belief. This heresy believes that it is a sin for a man to kill another man. Thus, when they need to fight other men, they hire mercenaries.

We found a guide from the foresters guild who was willing to take us to Neuteboom. His name was Ancellus. We told him that we wanted to get to Neuteboom through the jungle. His fee, he told us, was to be 170 pennies. We accepted and offered him a bonus of 30 pennies if we got there within nine weeks.

Despite our low financial resources, we bought as many supplies as possible. Mister Man pulled a rather nice trick, selling one of his bags that contained a turkey dinner and money which we had given him for almost twice as much.

We left on the first day of 1626 with 102 person-days of food and water.

Chapter6

The Jungle

As we walked out of Charth and along a trail to the jungle, we passed by the same village that Boo-boo had visited. Here he decided to try one more time to get married. He would have failed miserably had not Mister Man helped him by telling everybody that he was Boo-boo’s student and also opening just a little bit one of his bags that was filled with the wind. A woman named Gulblomst, aged 41, decided to marry Boo-boo.

So Boo-boo was dragged away and taught the tribal secrets and initiated into the tribe.

Meanwhile, the village prepared for the wedding.

The ceremony was performed on Pamalt-day by the village leader. The honeymoon lasted all of the next day. Finally, with Gulblomst as a backup guide, we continued on our journey on Six- day.

Three days later, on Gata-day, Ancellus and Martlet were out in front. Ancellus heard something approaching and no sooner said when from out of the jungle came a long, thin creature, perhaps some twenty feet long with a very long, very thin snout. Ancellus recognized it as what he called a sucker bunny.

Fenric fired an arrow and hit it in the left hind leg. Tudor also shot, but missed. Martlet moved in and chopped at the creature, hitting it in the abdomen. Ancellus also swung, but missed. Boo-boo failed to Disrupt the creature. The creature now attached its snout to Ancellus’s right arm and lifted him up in the air. Fenric fired another arrow but it tinked. Gulblomst had cast Firearrow on one of Tudor’s arrows. Tudor shot it and hit it in the head. The creature now clawed at Gorfang, who was moving towards it to hit it. He was hit in the abdomen and flung back 3 meters, crashing into Boo-boo.

Thingol now put a Damage Resist 10 around Martlet. Tudor fired again, but the arrow tinked. Boo-boo again failed to cast Disruption. The creature now did something to Ancellus, for he suddenly fell limp. whereupon the creature dropped Ancellus. Martlet hit the creature’s left hind leg. Tudor shot another Firearrow, hitting it in the abdomen. The creature tried to claw Martlet, but missed. Fenric tried to hit the snout of the creature, but missed.

Boo-boo finally cast Disruption, but it failed to overcome the creature. Martlet hit the creature in the chest. The creature then clawed at Fenric and hit him in the left arm, knocking him back a meter. Fenric moved up and hit the creature in the left fore leg. Gorfang cast Disruption and got it in the head. Gulblomst also cast Disruption, but it failed to overcome the creature. The creature’s snout then attached itself to Fenric, who was lifted up into the air. Tudor’s Disruption failed to overcome the creature.

Thingol now Palsied the creature in the chest. Tudor fired another arrow but it tinked. The creature now drained Fenric, but he was still alive and kicking. Martlet hit the creature in the chest. Gorfang shot a Multimissiled crossbow bolt, but all three shots tinked. Fenric then chopped at the tentacle, hit it, was dropped by the creature which also dropped. It was dead.

Ancellus had all of his blood drained out. Fenric had some of his sucked out as well.

Gulblomst and Boo-boo then cooked Ancellus for their dinner.

Another week passed by without mishap. Then, on the evening of Gata-day of the third week, we could hear a distant howling or moaning or shrieking noise which started just as the sun went down. It was a cacophonic chorus of voices that were not like a human’s.

About an hour later, both Tudor and Asmoufr noticed a man standing out in the woods. He

was holding up a dead rabbit and, in Fonritian, saying “Food.”

The man’s name was Tor. He was black, of course, short, wearing green clothes with a long bow, axe, and spear. We invited him to eat with us.

It turned out that Tor’s entire tribe, except for him, had been wiped out by what he called ‘The Tree of Evil.’ Apparently, this tree had sprung up overnight near his village. Its fruit were

pods from which emerged a strange creature. The description of it and the wounds it inflicted on his people sounded very familiar. The fruits of the tree were sucker bunnies. Additionally, added Tor, the sounds we were hearing were the tree.

Most of us wanted no part in a Chaotic tree that could produce so many sucker bunnies. But Mister Man told us that Chaos never gets weaker for ignoring it. Shamed, we decided that we would at least take a look.

It was only about an hour after we started walking the next morning to find the remnants of Tor’s village. It was destroyed. Along the way, we had collected as much dry wood as we could carry. And, the howling was getting louder.

After a few more hours, we could see the tree. It looked to be about 500 feet tall. As we got closer, we could see more detail. The tree had branches, but no leaves. Its fruit were pods of a purplish color and there looked to be hundreds. The trunk was about 40 to 45 feet in diameter, and its bark looked to be soft. And at its top was a huge tangle of what looked to be thatch. Its POW was higher than Boo-boo’s, and it swayed back and forth despite the absence of any wind. To provide a comparison of POW, Boo-boo began to summon Mugumma.

As we examined the tree, an elf suddenly stepped forth. Speaking in Aldryami, Thingol told the elf that we only wanted to kill the Chaos tree, none of the others.

To this goal the elf seemed pleased. His name was Alfarson, and his tribe’s dryads and sacred plants were all destroyed by the tree’s sucker bunny spawn.

When Mugumma appeared, he could see that the tree’s POW was higher than his own. But Mugumma also saw something else. As the tree budded pods, its POW decreased. But as it captured wayward spirits, its POW increased.

The logical thing to do seemed to try to destroy all the pods. But the lowest pod was about 100 feet up from the ground. And since there were so many of them, it would be a difficult task especially since we did not know how sentient the tree was. We therefore had to plan as if we had only one chance.

The plan we adopted was this. Alfarson had with him some Tanglethicket seeds.

Tanglethicket is an immense bracken of incredible density. It is extremely tough and when burned, emits a poisonous gas. So, we would rush up to the tree, dump wood as far around the base of the trunk as we could. Then Alfarson would plant the Tanglethicket and begin its growth. Once it had reached full maturity (some 15 minutes), we would Ignite the thicket. Of course we would remain upwind from the gas.

So this is what we did. The wood was dumped, the Tanglethicket grown and the whole lot Ignited. The tree itself did not catch on fire, but its branches began to thrash about, causing some of the pods to fall off. Their contents were some bones and a reddish pulp. The howling too increased to a crescendo of dissonance, then slowly died away as the fire too died. After an hour or so the fire had burned down. For about a third of the circumference of the tree, the trunk was burned inwards for about 8 feet over a height of about 5 feet. Alfarson took this opportunity to shoot one of the pods. It slowly bled a deep purple juice.

We spent the night camped and on watch. The howling did not return, nor were we attacked.

The next morning we found that about half of the pods had dropped off, making a huge pile of stinking refuse. During the day, half of us went hunting while the other half stayed to watch the tree.

When morning dawned on the next day, some more fruit had fallen. These fruit had bones inside them. The rest of the pods, maybe 200 or so, all looked withered and shrunken. We took this as a sign that the tree had been severely weakened and continued to march. Tor and Alfarson both accompanied us. For the next five days we marched and hunted, preserving our reserve of two days of food.

At about noon of Pamalt-day of the fourth week of spring, a small four foot high skinny humanoid wearing leaves for garments stepped forward and spoke something in Aldryami to Alfarson. The creature, of course, was a runner. It demanded tribute from Alfarson in the name of the High Lady Summer. Alfarson gave it a Tanglethicket seed. It then requested tribute from us outsiders. Gulblomst gave it nine tusks from some creature104 and a longbow arrow.

We thought that this might be a good opportunity to trade away the stone branch. We communicated this request through Alfarson. The runner said that it would show the Lady Summer the branch but that we would have to give it up. And, of course, none but Alfarson could come.

After some argument, the runner said that Tor could come part way. So, with nothing else to do, we gave the branch to Alfarson with a list of possible items, and Tor went with Alfarson.

When Tor had gone as far as he could go, he could see a perfect circle of trees. Alfarson went inside and, to Tor, it looked as if Alfarson was talking to a tree. He was, in actuality, talking to Lady Summer, a dryad.

She had told Alfarson, referring to our list, that humans have a strange custom to ask for more than they want. But she gave Alfarson her list of possible trade goods.

After all of the bargaining was done, the deal was made. We would each receive two packets of healing herbs. Five of them were conventional healing herbs105. Sixteen of them, however, were herbs that would heal, say, poison damage106. In addition, we received four packets of leaves that would help to cure Soul Waste107. We were also give eighteen humanbane seeds. If a single seed is fed to a human, that human becomes sterile. There were also four packets of powdered blindweed leaves. If thrown into a creature’s eyes, they become blinded for a small amount of time108. There was also a gallon of dark bounty berries and a single Love Fruit. If the Love Fruit is eaten, then that person falls in love with the person who gave the Love Fruit to them. The Love Fruit was kept far away from Mister Man.

We then continued onwards, hunting and walking. On Empress-day of the next week, we came to a slow, muddy, wide river. It was about 100 feet across and there were many crocodiles swimming in it.

We despaired on how to cross without ending up inside a crocodile until Boo-boo decided he would attack one of them in spirit combat, possess it, and then ferry the rest of us across the river. This he did and soon Boo-boo swam unsteadily to the bank.

Gorfang and Mister Man were ferried across with no trouble, although Boo-boo had some trouble handling his new body. Then Asmoufr and Boo-boo’s body were taken across. His body fell into the river, though, and Boo-boo was forced to grab his own body in his mouth. Another crocodile, interested in the morsel which Boo-boo had, followed him up out of the river. But

  1. Her tribe uses tusks as we use money.
  2. They would heal 1D6 damage.
  3. They would heal 1D6 general hit point damage!
  4. They allow an additional CON roll to resist the disease.
  5. One melee round.

Gorfang was able to drive it off after Mister Man had dragged Boo-boo’s body to safety.

Alfarson and Martlet made it across with no incidents. But when Thingol and Gulblomst rode across, a crocodile charged Boo-boo and bit at his riders. Fortunately, Thingol had cast a large Damage Resist, and the crocodile was unable to penetrate. After some fire by Gorfang and Alfarson, the crocodile left.

Then Tudor and Tor crossed. Another crocodile swam up towards the two. Gorfang fired from shore, but only managed to hit Tor in the abdomen. Martlet missed, but Alfarson didn’t and the crocodile backed off. Finally, Fenric made the journey alone and crossed without any trouble.

Three more days passed without any unusual events. But on Ga-day of the sixth week, we came across a hedge some ten feet tall, blocking our path and extending for as far as we could see, (some 30 to 40 feet). The hedge was very familiar. It was a Tanglethicket. From beyond the thicket, Tor thought he could hear a large fire burning and could smell smoke.

Not wishing to immediately break our way through, we decided to go around it. So, keeping the thicket on our left, we walked around the thicket. It took four hours to reach the other side. But now curiosity reared its head and so both Tor and Alfarson climbed up a tree to look over the top.

Both said that the thicket was about 10 feet deep. And in the center of the shape formed by the thicket was a pillar of smoke and flames. This was extremely interesting. Elves hate fire, so why would they allow a fire to go unchecked? Perhaps this was another Chaos tree? But if not, then why the Tanglethicket? Was it to keep something inside, keep humans from going in, or as a warning to other elves to keep clear?

It was here that we discussed who would be leader. There were only three logical choices: Boo-boo, Tudor, and Gulblomst. Based on experience and time with the group, Boo-boo was elected leader. As leader, he wanted to investigate this phenomenon. So he Discorporated and his spirit floated inwards. There were small sources of POW scattered through the trees. Then he came to the tree.

It was about 200 feet tall, and where it should have leaves, it had tiny flames. Its bark was very granular, and Boo-boo could detect only minimal POW in it. The heat that the tree produced had cleared a small circle around the tree where nothing else grew.

Boo-boo returned and told us what he had seen. By his description, it did not seem that the tree was Chaotic. But the Tanglethicket implied that either there were elves nearby or that there was a spirit bound to the thicket to provide it with the magic points it needs to survive. There followed a fierce debate on whether to try to take some of the wood or leave it alone. Finally, Boo-boo declared that we would try to get some.

Fortunately, there were some branches overhead that would get one across the Thicket without having to break through it. Tudor and Alfarson climbed past the thicket and proceeded towards the tree. They made it without any undue difficulty. They chopped off two branches of the tree. Then they extinguished one of the branches and then tried to light it again. The attempt failed, the wood apparently fire-proof. So, with Tudor carrying the lit branch, they returned. Hauling the branches over and then themselves, the crossed the thicket.

Since Boo-boo declared the branches as belonging to the party, Tudor then recrossed the thicket, for he wanted a staff made from the wood. Alfarson again went with him. They got two more branches, with many twigs on it. They saw no seeds or any sign of fruit.

They quickly returned and we continued onwards. For the rest of that week, there were no encounters.

But during the early part of the night of Six-day, Martlet and Alfarson were on watch.

Alfarson heard a plant whisper to him, “Back off so we can have a clear line of fire.” He whispered back, “Not now!”

The plant responded, “You’re not in control. Now back off so we can shoot.”

To this, Alfarson yelled as loud as he could, “Ambush!” and then dropped flat on the ground.

As he did this, Martlet turned and saw six elves all bending their bows. He just had time to raise his hoplite shield before the arrows flew. Gorfang was hit twice, in the chest and in the leg.

These two shots killed him. Mister Man was pinned to the ground as a dirty shirt, the arrow going through it. Martlet was also hit, though in the leg.

Only Alfarson had time to fire before the elves could shoot again. He managed to hit one in the chest, the elf falling over. More arrows flew, but only Gulblomst was hit. However, the arrow went completely through her left leg. Alfarson shot again, his arrow going completely through another elf’s head. Martlet too fired, wounding another elf in the left arm. Asmoufr missed with his boomerang as Boo-boo failed to overcome an elf’s magic points. For his pains, Boo-boo was hit in the chest by an arrow. Alfarson was hit too, in the left arm. Martlet shot again, hitting the same elf in the right arm.

Alfarson, his bow useless with his wound, charged the elves. Arrows flew, tinking off Martlet. But Asmoufr, Tor, and Alfarson were all hit. Alfarson then swung at an elf with his sword, but the elf dodged. Tudor and Martlet fired simultaneously, both hitting the same elf, who fell over. Thingol’s Multispelled Palsy then went off. He overcame the five elves he had targeted, but only Palsied their limbs. Three of them fell, their legs paralyzed. Martlet and Tudor again fired, hitting different elves in the legs.

Alfarson again swung, but the elf dodged. Boo-boo, Martlet, and Tudor all charged the downed elves as they presumably cast Healing spells.

One of the elfs now stood up, as three of them began to shimmer. Boo-boo tried to grab his opponent’s bow, but failed. Martlet and Tudor both killed an elf with body blows. Alfarson managed to fell an elf in the right leg.

Suddenly, a pit opened up beneath Martlet’s feet, and his legs were engulfed. Martlet cried out, “A gnome!” As Tor killed an elf, Asmoufr and Boo-boo were both hit. Gulblomst had now gotten the arrow out of her leg and Healed it. She now crawled over to Mister Man and, removing the arrow from him, tried to Heal him. To her surprise, the rent in the shirt did close up somewhat. Tudor now stabbed at the gnome, hitting it. Martlet managed to drag himself out of the gnome’s grasp.

But the pit followed him and he was engulfed again. The one remaining elf now stood up as Asmoufr crawled away, wounded. The elf then ran away, but no one followed him! Tudor again hit the gnome as Martlet again dragged himself out.

But again the pit followed him. First Tor, then Tudor hit the gnome. They managed to the structure of the gnome enough, forcing the spirit to return from where it had come.

Alfarson and then Tor left to track the elf. They returned a few minutes later. Alfarson had a minor wound, but they had killed the elf. They had also found the rock that had bound the gnome.

We healed up the party, and Gorfang’s body too. When Thingol went to take Gorfang’s key, he could see that it was glowing where it had never done so before. Thingol surmised that it was in some way storing Gorfang’s soul. Perhaps, he reckoned, if the key key” could be taken to the Copper Kettle, his body could be remade, and his soul rejoined to it.

The Quest now numbered one.

Chapter7

River-Ride

After burying Gorfang, we pondered on what to do next. We destroyed the elves’ bows and left Gorfang’s armor on his grave. His equipment went to the party.

The next three days were uneventful. We camped that night near a river. But as we woke up on the fourth day, Pamalt-day of the seventh week, we noticed that were surrounded by about 20 to 30 men with long spears and large shields made out of hide.

Tor went towards the man with the most feathers and said, “Welcome to our camp. Will you have breakfast with us?”

The man considered and then replied, “We will not eat with you yet. This is our river and we require a toll. You have until the sun is there (as he pointed to a location in the sky — about a half-hour) to decide.” And then they withdrew into the jungle.

When they returned, we had our toll ready. We gave them 18 ivory tusks, a bronze knife, a bronze hatchet, a fire-maker, and a pot of fermented berries. The man asked if any of the toll was from the elf. He replied no. The man then opened the pot, inspected the contents, and gave it to someone to drink. This man would have drunk it to the bottom had not the first taken it back with the admonishment, “I said a taste, only!”

He then said, “Anyone who wishes may come with us.” And with that, they all turned and began to walk away. With nothing better to do, we went with them.

It was only a short walk to the west until we came to a village. All of the huts were on top of stilts. A large longhouse was perched atop many stilts.

From the hut on top of the highest stilts (about 20 feet), came a person wearing more feathers than we had ever seen. He was painted with dots of white and Boo-boo noticed that his teeth had POW. The people called themselves the Aichee.

The chief and the man we had given the toll to conferred briefly over the toll. Then the chief turned to us and said, “This is a generous tribute. All those that you (pointing at Tor) choose can join us in the longhouse.”

Tor chose all except Thingol, Asmoufr, Gulblomst, and Alfarson. The rest, Martlet, Tor, Fenric, Tudor, Boo-boo, and Mister Man, plus a few more village men, climbed up into the longhouse. There were no women except for an old woman, cackling mirthlessly, pouring a fire between her hands. Boo-boo could see that she was a shaman, for Boo-boo’s fetch could see her fetch. Her POW was, of course, much higher than Boo-boo’s. All of the villagers acted as if she didn’t exist.

All in all, they had a boring party. It was more ceremonial than entertaining, and the noise from the feast below carried up to them.

We did ask questions about the poison water (the sea), and how to get there. They mentioned a route that follows the river, then encounters a lake, then continues on to the poison water. But, they said, one should not sleep on the shores of the lake, for on an island in the middle lived evil ones, whose singing would drive one mad.

Down below, a huge feast was going on. Both Alfarson and Thingol tended to be ignored. Thingol managed to Transform a quantity of water into beer which pleased some of the villagers greatly.

As the party wound down, and people started retiring for the night, Tudor resolved to speak with the shamaness. As he did, the shamaness looked up, cackled, then pointed a finger at him.

Tudor now found himself unable to utter a sound. We waited for five minutes, but he was still mute. We waited for another ten minutes, and he was still mute. Then, Thingol cast a large Neutralize Magic, but he was still mute. With nothing else to try, we waited until the next morning.

Talking to the chief the next morning, he explained that she can only do that kind of thing to a person if that person talks to her. He said that she had turned another person’s hair green. But, he said, he would have someone ask her to remove it.

That person and Tudor went up to the longhouse. There, the man said to no one, “If one were to restore one’s speech, one would be grateful.” The shamaness cackled and then held up three bony fingers. Conferring briefly with the rest of us, we decided to give her three twigs from the fire tree. But as Tudor approached to give her the twigs, she seized his arm, nicked his wrist, and let three drops of blood drop into her hand. Then she released his wrist and kicked away the twigs. Tudor could now speak again.

We then had to consider how we would get to the sea. The men had said, last night, that it was a three days hard walk and five days of easy walking to reach the other side of the lake. We then noticed that the village had some long canoes. We asked the chief if we could either rent or buy them plus guides. He said that any canoes bargained for would be made for us in two days.

After some bargaining, the agreed bargain was as follows. For us giving the chief one regular healing packet (he made us show him first), one special healing packet, and three straight sticks from the tree109, we would get two 20-foot long canoes and two boys of the village to guide us to the lake.

On Gata-day of the eighth week, we left the village. The river journey was not very perilous, seeing no extremely dangerous animals. Late that evening, we reached the shores of the lake and the boys left us to return to their village.

Heeding the villager’s warning, we walked inland for about one and a half hours to avoid the evil spirits. In the morning, Fenric found a deadly companion in his sleeping roll. It was a snake that Tor called a ‘fer-de-lance.’ Thingol cast a Damage Resist 10 on Fenric. Tudor added a Protection 2. Fenric then scrambled out of the roll. The snake bit at him, but did not penetrate. The snake slithered off, hotly chased by Asmoufr.

We walked back to the lake, then launched the canoes to try to find the river on the other side of the lake. Since the lake was quite convoluted, it was difficult to tell where this river might start.

By the day’s end, we had traveled a distance down what we thought was the correct river.

That night, the noise level from the birds was added to by what Tor called howler monkeys. Wondering what might have upset them, we watched more closely that night.

The next morning, Pamalt-day, we came across a braided vine stretching across the 100-foot wide river. It was Alfarson’s opinion that unless it was an extremely rare natural circumstance, then it was artificial, perhaps made to stop persons from going down the river.

Fenric cut the vine and we continued onwards. But at the next bend, there was a clearing cut into the jungle and one very beautiful tree growing there. There were no elves, but no one doubted that there could be.

We floated to the shore where only Alfarson disembarked. He went up to the tree and elaborately bowed. The rest of us, back at the canoes, could see a figure detach itself from the tree, a

  1. We had discovered that these made excellent Firearrows, since they were not consumed in the flames.

dryad.

Alfarson asked the dryad if he could Worship Aldrya and perhaps sacrifice for

Tanglethicket. She replied in the affirmative, but said, “Those animals in the canoes cannot watch. Have them come ashore.”

This we did. Some runners came and told us to sit down where they would put baskets woven from leaves onto our heads, so that we would be unable to see. With some misgivings, we did.

The rest of us did not see the Worship ceremony. But Alfarson went up to the tree and touched it. The ceremony suddenly stopped as the dryad noticed that Alfarson’s hands were green. He had shed the blood of elves. He was not allowed to continue the ceremony.

So it was a tight-lipped elf that returned to us after the baskets were taken from our heads.

He would not speak to us of the ceremony as we pushed off and continued down the river.

We went a ways down-stream then stopped to hunt, for we were dangerously low on supplies. Boo-boo had now come down with a case of what we believed to be malaria. He became delirious during the night. That night, we could hear a panther hunting a deer.

The next day, Witch-day of the eighth week of Spring, the river water had a distinct salt taste. We rejoiced in the knowledge that, at long last, we were near the ocean. As we reached the ocean, we could see a small village, some twenty huts on stilts. There were people farming in the distance. There was one hut that was set lower than the rest. At the top was a ten foot statue of a young man. Fenric immediately recognized it as a statue of Issaries. Could this be Neuteboom?

We landed the boats among other small boats and disembarked. From the women and children who crowded around us, we learned that this was not Neuteboom but rather a village called Garrath. One of the men who had come towards us pointed towards Thingol and asked if he was a sorcerer. We replied in the negative, lying. Somewhat unsteadily, he asked us if we were hungry or thirsty. We replied that we were both, whereupon the man looked around for a moment, then whispered to us to come to a hut.

Inside we were treated to fruit and crab. He asked us when we planned to leave, a strange question to be asking. We said that we would when we knew which way our destination lied. We asked about any traders that came to Garrath, especially which way they came, where they went, and if any of them were named Fusial. He replied, very nervous now, that he knew no such information.

At that very moment, the curtain that was hung in the doorway was thrown open. The man talking to us uttered a short cry, then retreated to the farthest corner.

The man that had done this was a short man, perhaps 50 years old. But he was not black.

Rather, his skin had a distinct yellowish color. A Kralori. He wore only robes. At his waist a belt of darts. They were all iron. His skin was overlaid with tattoos as well. Behind him were 4 burly men in bezainted armor

In perfect Fonritian, he said to the man, “Ah! You should have told me that we had traders here.” Then, turning to Thingol, he asked if he was a Rokari. Impressed at meeting a Kralori, he replied that he was.

“You are of Zzabur’s caste?110” “Yes.”

  1. A sorcerer.

“Who would be your leader?”

Since Boo-boo was incapacitated by malaria, we had no real answer.

“We’d like to keep your sorcerer,” said the man, whose name was Mik. “And before you get any ideas, do you see these darts? I vow that before you,” pointing at Thingol, “can cast a spell, I can put three darts in your heart.”

We were, to say the least, surprised at this declaration. In Arbennan, which Mik claimed that he did not speak, and apparently did not, we discussed our options. We asked Mik how far it was to Neuteboom. He said that in a proper boat, it was less than three days away.

Thingol had heard of sorcery slavery. The unfortunate victim is forced to create enchantments, draining his POW. Sometimes the slave is released after his POW reaches 1, sometimes he is kept for life.

So he told everyone present the story of his quest. He told them of the original four, himself, Gorfang, Slagstone, and Grosko. He told them of Urrquong and his dark prophecies. He told them of Old Man and his gifts, and his final message. He told them that Grosko was now fulfilling his mission, by killing the Chaos that he hated. Slagstone had fulfilled his mission, by being the father of a new race of trolls. His son, the bison, was now with Old Man in the Nargan Mountains. Gorfang’s soul was now in the key, where perhaps he could be reborn as a Mostali. He told them that if he was captured, then the rest of us must continue the quest. There were no obligations, no compulsions, just the persons word to continue to the best of their abilities. The rest of them swore to this.

Then Martlet echoed the sentiments of everybody else by saying, “I think that there will be blood shed.”

“That is too bad,” said Mik. “Very well, we shall duel to your surrender. I never surrender.”

Then he pulled out a strange stone and juggled it in his hand. Some of us recognized what it was. It was a jelmre emotion crystal.

“We shall go outside and count to 30. At that time, if you are still inside, I shall Form/Set the wood of the hut and crush you all.”

With that, he and his four henchmen left the hut. We could hear Mik’s voice slowly, but surely counting.

Chapter8

Duel

As he counted up to thirty, we hastily arranged for battle. Thingol cast a Multispelled Damage Resistance 11 on Martlet, Fenric, and Alfarson. Mister Man cast a Fireblade on Martlet’s sword as Tudor and Tor both cast Protection on themselves. Fenric also cast a Bladesharp 4 on his sword. Then we poured out of the building.

Thingol began cranking his crossbow as Alfarson cast Arrow Trance on himself. The four goons were spread out in a line. In the middle was Mik, and beyond him was another sorcerer, whose name we learned was Sorc.

Martlet engaged first, tinking off of his man. Gulblomst Disrupted the goon facing Asmoufr, damaging his chest. The goon retaliated by hitting Asmoufr in the leg, causing him to fall. Asmoufr’s return blow missed. Mik threw a dart at Fenric and it would have criticalled, had not Fenric interposed his shield. Alfarson fired his bow and impaled Mik in the left leg, but he did not fall. Did he have a Strengthening Enchantment? The extra missile tinked off of a Damage Resistance field. Alfarson fired again, but tinked. Fenric swung at Mik, but he dodged the blow.

Alfarson fired again, but tinked again. Mik kicked at Fenric, who was unable to parry it. He took damage to his left leg and fell over. A goon hit Tor in his spear arm, wounding it heavily. The last goon missed Tudor and his return blow was parried. Gulblomst again tried to Disrupt Asmoufr’s goon, but failed.

Alfarson would have impaled Mik in the chest had not his Damage Resist saved him. Sorc then cast Stupefaction at the five people in the line: Martlet, Fenric, Asmoufr, Tudor, and Tor. But they all had ample Free INT, so the spell failed. Martlet hit his goon, but it tinked off of a Damage Resistance. His return blow was hampered by his abdomen armor falling off. Asmoufr threw a dagger at his goon, but he missed. In return, he was hit in the left arm. The blow was too much for him, and he died. Fenric tried a blow at Mik from the ground, but the Damage Resistance worked again. Mik tried to jump over Fenric to get at Thingol, Alfarson, and Gulblomst, but he fell as he landed. Alfarson’s two shots at Mik bounced off the Damage Resistance. Gulblomst managed to twice Disrupt Asmoufr’s killer, once in the abdomen, once in the right arm. Tor’s goon fumbled as Tor managed to hit him in the right leg. Tudor managed to impale his goon, but the blow was parried.

As Mik stood up, Alfarson fired at point blank range. But again the blow was stopped. Thingol also fired his crossbow, but it too was stopped. Martlet swung at his goon, and landed a blow on his right leg. Asmoufr’s goon shifted to engage Fenric. Gulblomst again Disrupted the man, this time in the chest. Fenric hit him, but the blow tinked. Tor missed, as did both Tudor and his goon. Gulblomst failed to get another Disruption off. Alfarson fired twice, but both blows bounced again. Mik now kicked Alfarson, who could neither parry nor dodge. He fell, damaged in the left leg.

Gulblomst now threw her blindweed at Mik, hoping to blind him so that he could not use his martial arts skills. But her throw missed. Martlet aimed a blow at his goon’s abdomen, but it was parried. Fenric tinked a blow off his opponent. Tor hit his man in the leg as did Tudor, though in the left arm. Mik, incredibly, missed his blow. Thingol’s spell now went off. Three of the goons were Palsied in the head, left arm, and chest. Sorc now cast a Venom spell at six of us: Martlet, Fenric, Tor, Tudor, Alfarson, and Gulblomst. Only Martlet resisted. Fenric and Gulblomst were both killed by the Venom. They both failed a Divine Intervention to their appropriate deities.

Martlet and Tudor converged on Mik. Martlet managed to critical Mik in the chest. The Damage Resistance failed, but Martlet noticed that the blow did not seem to bite. Mik fell, nevertheless. Tudor hit him as he fell, but it bounced off the Damage Resistance. Fenric’s goon dropped his spear and pulled out his kukri. Tor missed his man, as Thingol cast Neutralize Damage

on Alfarson. The wound in Mik’s chest Healed over, the spell cast by a spirit undoubtedly bound to one of his tattoos.

One of the goons now came over to Mik to protect him. Martlet responded by hitting Mik in the abdomen. The Damage Resistance failed, but again the blow seemed to lose momentum.

Alfarson, now up again, fired at Sorc. Both arrows, while in flight, changed course and hit the wooden pectoral he wore over his chest. Neither arrow penetrated. Again he fired, with the same results. The spirit again healed Mik and he was able to stand up.

Tor now threw his blindweed at Mik and managed to hit Mik’s eyes, blinding him. Alfarson switched to firing at Mik, but both arrows bounced. Martlet missed as did the goon swinging at him. Mik punched wildly, and managed to hit Martlet. The blow bounced off his armor, though.

Alfarson fired again, with predictable results. Thingol tried to cast Neutralize Magic on Mik’s Damage Resistance, but failed.

Alfarson fired again, criticalling, then impaling Mik in the chest. Neither were affected by the Damage Resistance, and Mik fell. Martlet hit Mik, but bounced. The goon missed Martlet as well. Tor missed him man as did his goon. Tudor stabbed at Mik and penetrated the Damage Resistance to damage Mik’s left leg. Alfarson missed Mik, but no one else was hit. Sorc now turned and fled.

Alfarson fired twice, but bounced. Martlet hit, but he too bounced. The goon hit Martlet and both his parry and the Damage Resistance failed, letting the blow land on his right leg. The goon then noticed something and turned away. Martlet noticed it too, and he said, “Dead.” Tor hit his goon in the right leg. Tudor hit the fleeing goon in the left leg.

The goon broke through the group surrounding Mik as Martlet, trying to hit him, fumbled and lost his chest armor. The remaining goon shifted to Martlet, but the blow was stopped by the Damage Resistance. Tudor hit the goon, wounding him in the left leg.

The other goon, who was now crawling away, fell unconscious from loss of blood. Alfarson was able to get three shots off at Sorc. All three bounced. The last goon was assaulted by Martlet, Tudor, and Tor. Tudor’s blow tinked, but not Martlet’s nor Tor’s. The goon fell dead.

Alfarson fired once more at Sorc. The blow penetrated the Damage Resistance, but was slowed as it hit. He ducked behind a hut and was out of sight. Alfarson, still under the influence of the Arrow Trance, fired at one of the unconscious goons, but the blow tinked. Far in the distance, out of sight, Sorc and his familiar elephant were hastily leaving the village.

The combat was over. After calming Alfarson, the people came out. General hit point healing packets were given to Tudor, Tor, and Alfarson. Regular healing was given to us by the villagers. The goons were tossed into the river.

Looting the bodies proved somewhat fruitful. Mik, it turned out, had a jelmre stone. The emotion it responded to was anger111. In addition, there was the ring armor from the goons, plus 309 pennies, and 24 gold coins, somewhat lighter than a Wheel. The only other magical item as a matrix containing Befuddle. It was given to Gulblomst.

It turned out that one of the elder women of the village had use of Resurrect. Fenric, being a Humakti, could not be Resurrected. But both Gulblomst and Asmoufr could. After some discussion, Gulblomst was Resurrected. Three days, later, Asmoufr was also Resurrected, though he was but a pale shadow of his former self112.

In the mean time, the villagers began construction of a large outrigger canoe that could take

  1. If invoked, it would double all physical characteristics.
  2. Having lost 9 STR, 5 CON, 5 DEX, and 3 APP.

us to Neuteboom. The villagers estimated that it would take a week to complete.

On Pamalt-day of the ninth week, an elephant was spotted in the jungle. It was obvious that this was Sorc. After a small discussion of whether or not we should attempt to kill him, a small strike team went out to attempt to assassinate him. The team consisted of Tor, Alfarson, Martlet and Gulblomst.

The tracks were easy to follow, and Tor led them through the jungle. Finally, in a large clearing, Tor pointed out a large gray object that had to be the elephant113.

As Alfarson cast a Silence Sphere around him, Gulblomst cast Befuddle at the elephant, overcoming it. Alfarson snuck up on the elephant and fired an arrow at it, which of course bounced off it.

All of a sudden, from out of the jungle came the real elephant. It grabbed Alfarson, who could not hear either it or their cries to watch out. Tor fired his bow, hitting the forequarters, but the elephant had a Damage Resistance around it. Martlet also fired, but tinked. Gulblomst then cast a boosted Befuddle, but the spell failed to penetrate the elephant’s Spell Resistance.

Tor began to examine the surroundings, looking for signs of Sorc. Martlet fired twice, but the arrows bounced. The elephant then kneeled on Alfarson, utterly crushing his left leg. Gulblomst tried another, higher boosted Befuddle, but this too failed to reach the elephant. Tor then spotted Sorc in the underbrush almost directly behind the elephant.

He fired at Sorc, but the arrow was attracted to the wood and tinked. The elephant threw Alfarson into the nearby river, then looked around. Tor and Martlet both fired, but both tinked. Sorc had by now finished casting a spell, but it failed to go off.

Tor now brandished his spear and began to charge towards Sorc and the elephant. Martlet fired once more, saw it tink, then charged as well. Gulblomst now cast an extremely boosted Befuddle114 at the elephant. The spell punched through the Spell Resistance, but her magic points were so low that the spell did not affect the elephant. The elephant now began to head towards Gulblomst, and thus towards Tor and Martlet. Tor tried to dodge around the elephant and reach Sorc. The elephant tried to grab him as he went past, but failed. Martlet ducked into the underbrush to try to sneak around it.

Just as Tor reached Sorc, the elephant reached Tor. The elephant missed Tor, but not Tor.

However, his blow tinked. It may have affected Sorc anyway, for he failed to cast his spell.

Gulblomst had by now pulled out her blowgun, being down to one magic point. She fired and hit Sorc, but the Damage Resistance around him stopped the dart. The elephant again failed to grab Tor as Tor again hit Sorc. But his blow tinked. Sorc now cast a smaller spell, Stupefaction, at Tor, but Tor had more Free INT than the Intensity of the spell. Martlet now charged out of the underbrush and hit Sorc in the head. The blow landed, and Sorc fell.

He swung at Sorc again, but the blow failed to penetrate. The elephant now picked up Sorc, either to Heal him, or to run away with him. But before the elephant could do anything more, Tor stabbed Sorc with his spear. The point went through Sorc’s abdomen, killing him.

The elephant, now freed from Sorc’s control, went berserk. As it threw Sorc’s body into the jungle, both Tor and Martlet ran for their lives. The elephant began to chase Martlet into the jungle. Martlet tried to climb a tree, but the elephant pulled him off of the trunk. As the elephant began to kneel on him, he swung his sword, hitting the elephant’s head. But it continued the process, and shattered his shield and right arm. In great pain, Martlet attempted to play dead.

  1. Unbeknownst to him, Tor had fumbled his Scan roll and had pointed out a large rock.
  2. Ten magic points!

Tor, observing what had transpired from his perch in a tree, fired on the elephant. The elephant now went over to the tree where Tor was sitting and began trying to push down the tree. Tor began to fire on the elephant, and after impaling it twice, the elephant, still fully sentient, left to heal itself.

Returning to the clearing, Gulblomst had stripped Sorc’s body of his magic items. He had only the plank of wood and a 17 point magic point storing crystal. In addition, he was carrying 17 gold coins.

We never saw Alfarson again. Presumably he had drowned in the river after the elephant had thrown him in115. Returning to the village, we told them how they now no longer had to fear from someone taking them over. They still said that they wanted a protector, though. Since Alfarson had a total of 1900 pennies in his pack, it was decided that we would give the villagers 700 pennies if they would take us to Neuteboom, where they could hire a protector. This they agreed to.

The promised catamaran was done the next evening. We left the following morning.

  1. This in fact, is what had happened.

Chapter9

Neuteboom

The first two days on the ocean went relatively uneventfully. There were the usual sea creatures such as sharks and others, but none bothered us for very long.

Occasionally we would land on shore, either to refill our water supply or simply to stretch our legs. The sea was relatively calm, and we were happy.

But on the third day, Gata-day of the tenth week, disaster struck. While we were on shore, from out of the woods, a hail of arrows flew our way. One native was killed outright, others were injured. We managed to crawl back to the boat, and, while still under fire, pushed away from shore. Other than the one native, no one was killed, though we were all injured.

The very next day, we sailed within sight of an island. On it were tall gleaming spires made out of a translucent material. At the docks were ships made out of a black glass. Nevertheless, they too were translucent, though to a lesser degree. One of the ships had one of its sails being furled around the boom. But nowhere was there to be seen any people, not even on any of the ships.

Gulblomst told us of tales that she had heard, of an immortal and invisible people that lived on this island. Intrigued, we sailed slightly closer, ready to run if necessary. As we did so, we could see a crystalline bridge connecting the island to the nearby headland. Going even closer, Boo-boo could now distinguish sources of POW. They were all higher than his plus his fetch’s.

We decided to leave this alone, since there was no telling what unknown dangers there might be. So we continued onwards for the day. And that evening, we could see the lights of a city ahead. The boats docked there looked normal.

We landed on the beach and hired someone to guard our boat. The two natives left us, presumably to try to hire someone to be their people’s protector. The rest of us went into the city, Neuteboom. We found an inn and slept.

The next morning, we went to the local Issaries market and found Fusial. He was pleased to see us, and he still had the scepter. His offer was still valid, and for all those who accompanied

us116. He said that he would leave in two days.

We showed Fusial all the stuff we had collected, but he seemed somewhat indifferent to them. He still had the shield that breathed fire, but he wanted an exorbitant price for it. We decided to hold off on trading for now.

The two days passed quickly. On Six-day of the tenth week of spring, we boarded the Liberty, a large cog.

Fusial was thinking of taking the ship up-river to the ruins that were nearby. The city had been destroyed long ago by elves, and they had planted guardians there. Fusial said that we should take the path of most resistance. Presumably, he said, there we would find the most potent anti-elf magic there. We declined the offer.

So instead, we set off towards the city of Wendo, two days away. We got to know Fusial’s crew. One of them was a Hrestoli aspiring knight named Uller. He and Thingol got into some interesting theological arguments.

  1. Room, board, 30% of what we get back, no working as a sailor, our decision on whether a job is too dangerous, unless we have done this too much.

After a small storm, we berthed in the port at Wendo. Fusial told us that there was an ancient agreement with the elves. The first time one went in, the elves would chop off one limb. A priestess would then cast Regrow Limb. Fortunately, Fusial had already gone through this initiation. He then picked up a huge sack and went inside the city. He said that he would be back tomorrow.

He came back late the next night, but we waited until morning before casting off.

Shortly after rounding the main tip of Elamle, on Pamalt-day, Fusial called us to his cabin. “There is a giant Chaos monster called ‘The Mother of Monsters’, which walks along the

coast nearby, with one set of legs in the water, the other on land. Every night it breeds some chaos monsters, depending on the tide. It takes the monster 70 to 80 days to complete its cycle all around the peninsula. Most of the cities on the coast are built far inland, for obvious reasons.

“I want you to kill one of the monsters that it breeds to get the stone in its head. I have heard that the stone has magical properties. One could turn a person invisible when placed in the mouth. Another could let a person fly.”

We asked how big these monsters were. Were they, say, bigger than the ship? “Not usually.” We also asked how many monsters it spawned at night. “Usually not more than a dozen.”

“Look, there it is in the distance!” shouted Fusial. We all followed his gaze. The beast was huge, towering over the eucalyptus trees that stood on the shore. It had four legs, but each leg was in the shape of a four-legged creature. On its back, many pairs of wings sprouted, too small to lift it.

“I only want you to kill the monsters that are shaped liked a toad. Only these have useful stones in their heads.”

We asked what kind of attacks this creature did. “Well, they can swallow everything in their path, which is, oh, say ten to twenty yards. Their skin is thick, with pustules on it. Oh, and watch out for the tentacle.”

Marvelous, we were thinking. We were supposed to kill what it took entire city militias to drive away! Could we perhaps use the shield that breathes fire? Sure, he said.

So that night we sailed out to sea to avoid the swimming monsters that were bred (“But it’s rare to meet a swimming one”). The next morning, we held a meeting. For this little bit of troubleshooting, we would be without our best fighter, Martlet, who was sick.

But Thingol had a good idea. He would invoke Hrestol’s blessing on himself, thus doubling his POW. Then, after twelve hours, his magic points would have regenerated to that level, whereupon we might be able to Palsy this creature in a vital spot. In addition, we would use the two packets of poison that Boo-boo had brewed long ago to coat crossbow bolts, arrows, and spear tips. Thingol’s crossbow would also have Speedart cast upon it, to help the bolt penetrate the skin of the beast.

So Thingol called upon Hrestol late that night. The next morning, Ga-day of the twelfth week, he was at full magic points117.

The Liberty sailed back towards shore with its ballista loaded and ready to fire. All of a sudden, a lookout spotted a monster in the sea, coming towards us. The sailors fired their ballista and hit it, whereupon the beast sank beneath the waves. They quickly reloaded the ballista.

  1. Thirty-two to be precise.

Soon, another lookout spotted a monster on shore. “How big is it?” cried Fusial. “Two or three spans tall!118” was the response. He turned to us and said, “You’re in luck. Its a midget.”

We landed in the ship’s boat. We could see the top of its head in the tall weeds growing on shore. The ship again fired its ballista, scoring on the monster. It ducked into the undergrowth.

We coated our arrows and slowly stalked the creature. Tudor carried the fire-breathing shield. We heard a great croak, and all of us felt chilled119. We then started to rush towards the sound.

It croaked twice more before we could see it. All we could see of it was a blue-colored back. On it were beach-ball sized bubbles. Boo-boo could see that its POW was higher than himself and his fetch combined. Each of the bubbles had a POW less than Boo-boo’s. Uller and Tor both fired and hit. Tudor got his bow string caught up in his helmet.

The monster croaked again, then it stood up and jumped the final twenty yards to engage us in melee. Tor fired a Firearrow that hit the creature’s chest. Thingol cast a Palsy, but even with his higher magic points, he failed to overcome the creature. The monster now swung its tentacle towards Thingol. He managed to dodge the blow, which left a foot-deep depression in the ground, then cracked back like a whip. Tor tinked his blow, but Uller critically hit it in the head. Despite this, it continued to fight.

Again it croaked. Uller managed to dodge the creature’s tentacle. Thingol, taking his crossbow from Gulblomst, fired and impaled the monster in the left claw. Its right claw grabbed Tudor around his right leg and lifted dim into the air. Its mouth opened in a circle, then dropped towards Uller. Again he managed to Dodge the creature.

After the monster croaked yet again, Uller again criticalled the monster in the abdomen. Tor shot a Firearrow and hit the creature. From his awkward vantage point, Tudor invoked the shield. A sheet of flame enveloped the monster’s right claw, chest, and left claw. It did not, however, drop Tudor. It did, though, pinch Tudor’s leg. It severed neatly, and Tudor fell to the ground, sorely injured. It bit at Gulblomst, but she dodged the blow. Uller and Tor both tinked as Thingol cast a Damage Resistance Intensity 8 on himself, Uller, Tor, and Boo-boo. The creature swung its tail, but missed entirely.

Again the monster croaked. Gulblomst began the process of healing Tudor. Two claws grabbed at Thingol. He Dodged the first, but not the second. Fortunately, the Damage Resistance saved his leg. Boo-boo grabbed the fire-breathing shield from the ground. Tor criticalled the creature’s chest with another arrow. Why hadn’t the creature died yet120?

After the croak, Uller impaled it in the chest again. The shield spurted fire from Boo-boo’s command, and the flames licked over the abdomen and right leg of the creature. The claw closed around Thingol’s leg, but his Damage Resistance saved him. Tudor, healed somewhat, stood up just in time for the other claw to grab him around his left arm. Tor now criticalled the creature, whereupon it fell over. Quickly, we made sure of it.

Before our eyes, the monster began a slow process of decomposition. We chopped through the skull, through the brain, and found the stone. It was a crystal about three inches long. As Tor picked it up, he instantly felt revived. But as soon as he wrapped it up, he was as tired as he was before.

While this was going on, Boo-boo and the others tried to deal with the bubbles on the creature’s back. Weapons simply passed through with no harm done to them. He then tried a

  1. A span was the reach of a man’s arms, some six feet or so.
  2. The croak of the creature causes anyone hearing it to lose 1D6 fatigue.
  3. We had done a total of 136 points of damage to it!

Disruption. It succeeded, and the bubble simply disappeared. He did this to nine of the remaining eleven. Tudor collected these two to take back to the ship.

Back on board, we discovered what the gem’s properties were. Placed in one’s mouth, one is immune to fatigue loss. Fusial tested this by having a seaman place it in his mouth, then run up and down the mast several times. He thought that this was a weak property, but then again, it was a weak monster, in his opinion. He was intrigued by the bubbles though.

Later that day, Fusial came to us all. He asked us to decide whether or not we wished to be rid of the scepter. He would give us a fair price now, so that we could use it in Sil-Pallo. He would sell the scepter to a trustworthy trader in Kimos who would, in turn, sell it to a trader who would sell it to the Doraddi, who would sell it to the Kresh. With them, it should be safe. He offered 7000 pennies. After a short discussion, we accepted.

Two days later, we arrived in Sil-Pallo. Two weeks from now, the monster would arrive. Thus, the houses were cheap tents. The carpenters here had the reputations of being the best and fastest. We would stay here until Fusial found out what the bubbles did.

On Six-day, Fusial came back to the ship angry. He had found out what the bubbles did. Their property was to absorb one offensive spell that overcomes the holder’s magic points. Of course, he had to use one to determine its function. And we had destroyed ten of them on the creature’s back. Live and learn.

Fusial said that we would stay here in Sil-Pallo for at least two weeks. So we enjoyed the dubious pleasures of Sil-Pallo.

Chapter10

Kimos and Resurrection

On Empress-day of the third week of summer, we left for Kimos. The journey took three days and we arrived on Ga-day.

The mountains on the horizon were gray and uninviting. Storm clouds hovered ominously over the land. As we got closer, we could get a feeling that the coastline rocks and hills were not naturally formed.

This feeling was confirmed by the sight of a mountain some ten kilometers tall. It was in the shape of a spiral, and it angled over the city some 500 meters. It also contained POW. Boo-boo did not like to look at it for too long. There was a fort carved into the mountain itself.

Fusial called us around. This included a new member of our group, a man named Bevisric. “We are going to be in Kimos for several weeks. I will be using the boat to conduct my

trading. You can come with me if you wish, or you can stay ashore. If any of you do come, you will all keep a sharp lookout for small boats, about the size of a rowboat. If you see one, tell me immediately so that we can steer away from it because there will be gorgers in it. You will receive one gold piece for doing this. If any of you feel ill or such, also tell me. That’s a sure sign that gorgers are near.”

We asked about the mountain, recalling the phrase, “War-torn Kimos.”

“Well, humans made it, but I don’t know what for exactly. I’m sure it helps with their war with the gorgers. See, from what I can figure out, the humans have a certain pattern that they are trying to make and so do the gorgers. Unfortunately, the patterns are mutually exclusive. So the people of Kimos use volcanoes and earthquakes to disrupt the gorgers’ pattern, and they use tidal waves and wind storms to do the same to the human’s pattern. One of their more impressive feats was to cause the clouds to fill the sky for a whole year. A lot of plants died that year.”

All of us decided that Fusial’s plan to sail out to sea 100 kilometers before heading to the next port, though it was safe, was going to be boring. Thus, we disembarked and looked for a place to stay while Fusial made his deals here.

The harbor was artificial and had a war tower on the end of the one long pier. The city itself consisted of seven long, wooden barracks. We were shown the way to the barracks especially for housing foreigners.

After a few hours, Fusial came to us. He would no longer go on his long sea voyages. Instead, he would have a magic stone keel put onto the ship. This keel could propel the ship by itself if there was no wind. The process of installing the keel would take several weeks. We were on our own until then.

We looked around the city, and decided to try our hand at trading for items. So we went to the barracks that contained items that the people here traded away.

The items that we wanted to acquire most were spell matrices. However, most of the matrices and items were in large stone blocks. The smallest of these weighed about 20 kilograms.

They, however, were very keen to acquire matrices for themselves. Though none of them were sorcerers, those were the kind that they most wanted. We asked about this seeming anomaly and the man there showed us the smallest of the spell stones. This was a stone column about ten feet tall. Matrices were put into a hollow in the column, whereupon the stone itself cast the spell!

One of the more unique items he had for sale was a long stone spear or lance. The tip was truncated, but where it would have been was a point that was extremely hot. It started fires easily, and he told us of using it against a creature to burn its insides despite the spear not penetrating into the creature itself.

However, we decided that perhaps the most useful things we could get here would be iron. So we struck a deal with the trader. For the making of two Neutralize Magic matrices by Thingol, plus three regular healing packets, he would trade us an iron bastard sword. In addition, for another five general healing packets, he would give us a scabbard that automatically repaired one point of damage, no matter how repaired it had already been. Uller used his own money to buy an iron short sword.

So for the next two weeks, Thingol was engaged in Enchanting rituals to make the matrices.

Boo-boo tried only once to go onto the Spirit Plane. The only time he did he was attacked by a wraith. He managed to defeat it, but it was a close call. When he mentioned this, the trader told him that it was the gorgers that sent the wraiths and other things to kill off the human shamans.

Finally, on Gata-day of the sixth week, the matrices were finished. We gave them the matrices and other material and received the sword and scabbard in return.

In addition, the trader made another offer. He told us that it was possible that Gorfang, his soul still residing in the key, could be remade! The possibility was intriguing. But the price was high.

Mister Man cast Mindlink on the key and was able to establish communication with Gorfang. We asked him whether he wanted to take the chance. He said yes. So for a nine point magic point storing crystal, the four Soul Waste healing packets, two more general hit point healing packets, enough fire-proof wood for 45 arrows, and 2000 pennies, they would do it.

That night, we descended into the corkscrew mountain. Deep down in the roots of the mountain, we came upon a huge chamber. In the middle of it was a huge beam of energy. After a short ceremony, the priest tossed the key high into the beam.

As the key struck the beam, a brilliant ball of light took its place. Slowly, the ball descended towards the ground. When it finally touched the ground, it dimmed, then extinguished. And from out of the beam walked Gorfang!

Or rather, what Gorfang thought he looked like. Apparently, the mind of the person reconstructed his or her own body from their memories and impressions. Gorfang had drawn on his impressions about himself and his body and this had influenced his reconstruction.

He was now much shorter than he used to be, perhaps a meter tall. He was hugely muscled though slightly clumsy, perhaps due to the different musculature. He was also more handsome121.

And what of the key? It never came out of the beam. But Gorfang now looked slightly ruddier, as if some of the key’s color or perhaps substance had gone into making his new body. But that was a small price to pay for having him alive again.

The last thing he remembered was the elf ambush, almost exactly a season ago. He wanted to know what happened to his weapons and armor. Well, we said, we had buried you in your armor, since it would fit no one else, and since nobody could really handle your crossbow, we sort of buried it too.

Early the next morning, we left Kimos bound for Banamba, a province of Fonrit. We got

  1. The following changes had been made to his statistics: STR +3, CON +2, SIZ -4, DEX -2, APP +3.

there one week later, on Empress-day. Along the waterfront was a whole row of houses. One of them was noteworthy: “Sorcerers for hire: Statistics enhanced long-term”. To make a long story short, Boo-boo made a Bind Power Spirit Enchantment in return for Gorfang’s SIZ being enhanced by four points for four years.

It was here that Fusial sold the scepter. He got a good deal and he gave us our share of the excess profit: 3000 pennies. With the trader that had the scepter went Mister Man. He declared that he would accompany the scepter until it reached its final destination. None of us were exactly sorry to see him go, but life would be much duller without him around. And we all had a sinking feeling that perhaps we would see him again.

On Ga-day, we left for Fonrit proper. On the following Ga-day, we arrived at the walled city of Tondiji in the province of Kareeshtu.

We walked off the ship with Fusial and three sailors and headed towards the harbormaster.

Tor had declined to come with us for he went with some of the other sailors.

As we walked along a dirt road, we had just noticed that the street was remarkably quiet for such an obviously large city.

Just as this observation was made, the thrum of bowstrings and crossbows split the air.

Chapter11

Ambush and Plight

From our left came two Firearrows that hit Fusial in the chest and abdomen. From the right came two crossbow bolts. One hit Thingol in his right arm, the other Gorfang in his right leg. A Venom spell targeted itself on Martlet from the right. The intensity was 14, but he resisted the effects. Then, another Firearrow hit one of the sailors in the abdomen. Still another hit Boo-boo in the abdomen. Finally, eight people, some of them half-naked, came out of the small fort-like building on our left. They wielded a mixture of weapons.

Two arrows hit Bevisric, both in the left leg, felling him. The sailor that had fallen had his throat slit by one of the men. As Gulblomst began Healing Boo-boo, Martlet parried a blow from an axe-wielding woman. Just after that, he parried a blow intended for Gorfang, who was Healing himself, and damaged the man’s spear. Uller dodged a rapier-wielding woman (who was fully clothed) as the other sailors and swordsmen missed each other. Asmoufr and his opponent also missed each other. Another spell flew through the air, hitting Thingol and Palsying his head, chest, and left leg. Two more arrows flew, but missed.

Tudor now began to head over towards the crossbowmen, his shield held high. One crossbow bolt slammed into his shield, but a bowman did manage to hit Tudor’s right arm. The other crossbowman missed Bevisric, but an arrow did hit Bevisric in the chest as he tried to Heal himself and crawl away from the melee. Gorfang tried to Demoralize his opponent, but failed to cast the spell. The man attacking him missed. Martlet swung at the axe-woman and sliced her left leg off. Another man engaged Martlet, but was parried. Uller swung at his opponent, who was obviously a leader of some sort, but she dodged the blow. Her riposte punctured his abdomen.

Asmoufr and his opponent again missed each other as did the sailors and swordsmen, one of which had his helmet slide over his eyes. Just as Bevisric had Healed his leg, another arrow penetrated his abdomen. The final arrow hit Boo-boo, who had stood up after Gulblomst had Healed him again, but it only hit his leg.

Another spell ripped through the air and killed a sailor as he fought122. More arrows flew, killing a sailor in the abdomen. Gorfang parried as he stood up, and in return his mangled his opponent’s right leg. Martlet now engaged his other foe and landed a blow on his abdomen. On the ground, Uller was hit again by his enemy, but he still survived. Gulblomst now found herself engaged in melee by one of the enemy, but her foe missed as she nimbly Dodged. Asmoufr and his opponent continued to slice air. Tudor, who had worked his was to an entrance to the paddock where the crossbowmen were stationed found himself facing a man wielding a sword and wearing an eye patch. The two of them traded blows to no effect. Arrows flew towards Tudor, but bounced off the wall next to him. Boo-boo failed to cast a Disruption.

Three missiles flew towards Boo-boo. One crossbow bolt and one arrow missed, but the last crossbow bolt went straight through his right arm. The last arrow missed Bevisric. As Thingol shook free of the Palsy spell, his first sight was of the enemy sorcerer standing over him, ready to use his scimitar should Thingol try to cast a spell. One of the men headed in Bevisric’s direction. Martlet engaged another opponent and laid open the man’s chest, killing him. Gorfang parried a blow, but his return was a miss. Gulblomst, who was now engaged two on one managed to dodge one and parried the blow of the other with her blowgun. Asmoufr finally managed to land a blow just as his opponent managed to parry it. The final arrows missed.

Unbeknownst to the rest of us, the enemy sorcerer had forced Thingol to his feet and, scimitar at his neck, began leading Thingol away. One of the men tried to jump over Uller’s prone body to engage Gorfang, but he wound up falling over Uller, whereupon Gorfang snapped his left arm. Martlet managed to land a blow despite the woman’s dodge and sliced off her left leg. She fell

  1. Venom 16.

on the man Gorfang had wounded and killed him. Gulblomst tried a Disruption on her opponent and was rewarded when the man fell over as his right leg crumpled beneath him. Asmoufr finally managed to land a blow to his opponent’s right arm. Tudor was hit by the man and his right leg was severed. The man over by Bevisric began robbing him.

By now the bowmen had jumped down off of their high perch and tried to get away.

Gorfang, noticing Thingol’s disappearance began to head over to where he had been. As he did so, one of the crossbowmen fired at him. The blow hit his head and he fell, dazed. The last man still on his feet surrendered. The rest, including the last crossbowmen and the two bowmen, escaped.

Fusial was dead, victim of two Firearrows to vital locations. We healed the party, reattaching Tudor’s leg, and began interrogating the survivors. The girl was the only person who had a special mark on her. This we inferred, was to mark her a free person, since there were so many slaves! She told us only that they all worked for the owner of the tannery, whose name was Narusa. Narusa had made everybody else besides the ambushing party clear the street.

Thingol’s disappearance was now noticed, especially after Gorfang had been revived. After a quick discussion, he along with Uller, Gulblomst, and Bevisric, who was minus his weapons, shoes and belt, would try to track the kidnapper. The rest, Martlet, Boo-boo, Asmoufr, and Tudor would bring the prisoners and Fusial’s body back to the ship. We would all meet back aboard ship.

As they returned to the ship, they noticed that all over the ship were men wearing black livery. Asking, we learned that they were city militia. Whatever they were, they were crawling over the ship, as well as removing items from the hold.

Martlet was dead set against going back on board, but Boo-boo insisted and got his way. As they tried to board, two soldiers on the gangplank asked if they were with the ship. They replied in the affirmative and were told to come on board. They were interviewed by the captain of the guard who asked if they were all outlanders. They said yes, and tried to tell the story of the ambush. He cut them off, asking if they had any unregistered shamans, sorcerers, or priests. Again, they said yes. He told them all to come with him, which they did.

They disembarked and went to a tower of one of the walls. They were told that they would be questioned upstairs and told to leave all their weapons and metal armor downstairs. This they did. They were escorted upstairs, but the two natives, the girl and the one who had surrendered were taken into a different room. They were asked basic questions and Boo-boo was registered as a Class 1 shaman — no threat.

They were also asked who their owner was. Since they did not wear the mark of a free person, this was a logical question for them to be asked. They replied that they were employed, but that sadly, he had died.

Then, from another room came four guards with shackles. “You’re going to jail”, was the explanation. “Hold out your hands.”

Meanwhile, the other four had mixed luck trying to track down Thingol’s kidnappers. They had successfully tracked the criminal until his tracks joined a cobbled road with many people traveling it. So, sadly, they abandoned their search and went back to the ship.

Just as they got there, they saw the other four being led off of the ship. Suspicious, they followed them, trying to attract no attention to themselves. Though slowed by Uller having to get a sword knot (to keep it tied into his scabbard), and Gorfang’s shield being confiscated (though getting a receipt for recompense), Gulblomst managed to trail behind them and watched as they went into the tower.

Horrified, the four watched as the others, including the rapier-wielding woman were led out in shackles. They quickly fell in behind the guards escorting them. The four followed them as they

went through the city, down a long row of temples to various deities, crossed a bridge and went through a gate house, and finally in through a gate with very tall walls — the jail.

Since they knew next to nothing about the city, they decided to split up and try to find out more about the town. They would meet near sundown.

When they met back up again, they had found out very little. Some of the more interesting things were: that there three dwarfs who lived in the city; that outside the city was a place called the City of the Dead, a necropolis; and that we should try to find the judge who sentenced the others at the Citadel of Law. But since it was near sundown and all the city gates closed then, they decided to try to find the judge tomorrow.

The next day, they waited for Judge Eks, who was on duty at the time the others had been arrested. While they waited, they learned something about the politics of the city.

The person in charge of the city was called the Bey. The Bey is himself the slave of the high ruler of Kareeshtu. All of the police heads in Tondiji are the Bey’s slaves. The men under these police chiefs are their slaves and so on down the chain of command. This leads to all sorts of political intrigues.

Of course there are some people in the city who are owned by nobody. Narusa, the owner of all the leather works in the city, for instance, was not a slave.

All sentencing takes place at the Citadel of Law. Since the others had not been taken to the Citadel of Law, they wondered whether they had actually been sentenced or not. Their source remarked that if the Bey had hired Narusa to set the ambush, then they would have gone to a judge. It sounded like it was someone with less power than the Bey.

Finally we got to see Judge Eks. We told him our story, beginning with the ambush, and ending with the others landing in jail. He asked who had done the sentencing. We told him that as far as we knew, they had never seen a judge. He asked where we were from, whether we had ever been here before, and whether anybody with us was rich.

After we had answered the questions, he sat and thought for a while. Since we wanted to know under what charge they had been imprisoned, he told us to go with a guard so that we could find out.

We went with the guard, whose name was Denalma, to the jail. We learned that Boo-boo and the others were being housed in the level for magicians. The sentence was for life, there was no charge. And, the sentencing judge was listed as Judge Eks!

The turnkey mentioned that it was interesting that they hadn’t been sold as slaves instead, since that was usually what happened to those who would receive life sentences.

We asked Denalma if it was possible to see Judge Eks again today. He said that sentencing was finished for today, but that sometimes he might meet petitioners outside the Citadel when the day was over. And since he was one of the guards who kept the petitioners at bay, we might not find his pike in the way for some inducement. This we gave him.

Gorfang was more interested in meeting one of the dwarfs in the city, so he left to find Ironhand Thorin-owned.

The other three went back to the Citadel to try to meet Judge Eks again. When he came out of the Citadel, Gulblomst was not blocked by Denalma. She went to Judge Eks and, acting slightly hysterical and pleading, begged him to help. Judge Eks said that he would give her five minutes of his time at the Hall of Justice.

They went there and Gulblomst retold what the turnkey had said. Judge Eks thought for a moment.

“It sounds like there has been some private enterprise going on here.” He explained that when citizens are arrested, the gate soldiers take the prisoner to a judge, who passes sentence. The guards then take the prisoner to the jail, where the turnkey carries out the sentence. It sounded, to him, as though the turnkey and the soldiers themselves were blameless, merely following orders. Perhaps it was the guard captain who perpetrated the deed?

He told us to meet him tomorrow morning at the Hall of Justice where they would all go together and confront the guard captain.

That night, we met up with Tor, who had not come with us when we had disembarked, but had rather gone with some of the other sailors. They had returned to see the ship being searched and its cargo confiscated and so melted into the city for the time being. We brought Tor up to date on the situation.

The next morning, as we waited in front of the Hall of Justice, we suddenly saw a group of guards come running towards the Hall, all out of breath. We suspected bad news.

It was even worse. Judge Eks was dead. He had been assassinated as he had crossed one of the bridges by a figure that flew up to the bridge and fired a crossbow bolt at him, killing him. A guard captain, not the same on as before, came to us and asked us what part we had played in this.

In the captain’s office, we related the whole story. He asked in particular when we related the ambush, whether any of us was obviously a sorcerer. Since Thingol was, we said yes.

When we finished, he sat back and thought. Finally, he said, “Until the judge has been Resurrected, there is no way we can verify your story. He should be Resurrected by tomorrow morning. Perhaps you should stay here tonight as guests, not prisoners. This we accepted.

Late that night, or perhaps early in the morning, the guard Denalma came to us, furtively. “I’ve got really bad news. The resurrecting priestess is dead. She was found dead floating

in on the tide. Her acolytes and initiates are all dead too. So who was it then who went inside the temple supposedly to resurrect Judge Eks? His body was scattered and his head taken; there’s no hope that it could be resurrected.

“Now I’m not a rich man, and this is none of my business. But it seems to me that someone who can impersonate a Chalana Arroy priestess is bad news. The Captain of the Guard will want to keep you around. I think you’ll be killed if you stay where you’re officially known.”

We asked him if he could help us ‘escape’, since we were not officially imprisoned. He remarked, “That’s where my being a poor man come in.” We gave him 5 pennies. He took us to our weapons, where we armed and cloaked ourselves in black cloaks. Then he took us to the main gate and we left.

Later that morning, we debated what to do. If a Chalana Arroy priestess was killed by our mysterious opponent, could he or she or it also get to our comrades inside the jail? And what about Thingol? If we spent time trying to find him, would that give our opponent time to kill Boo-boo and company? Or if we broke them out of jail, how could we hope to search for Thingol, since we would have to hide out until the furor over the jailbreak died down?

Good sense prevailed, and we laid plans to break our friends out of jail.

Chapter12

The Great Escape

The rest of the day Gulblomst, Bevisric, Uller, Gorfang, and Tor plotted how they would break their friends out of prison. After a long discussion, they decided that Bevisric would attempt to scale the walls by himself some time before midnight. The rest of them would wait at the inn until midnight, when they would make fresh plans depending on how much trouble Bevisric was able to cause.

During this discussion, Tor tried to find his first wife. He asked the serving girl to marry him, but that he would have to buy her from the innkeeper, she being a slave. The innkeeper named a price of 500 pennies, which Tor did not have. A younger girl was offered at a price of 300 pennies, but again he did not have that much. Oh well.

Before midnight, Bevisric crept up to the prison walls and began to climb. He managed to gain the top, but just as he looked over the top to see if it was clear, he heard voices nearby. He crouched against the wall as best he could, but a guard spotted him anyway. Vaulting over the top of the wall, he dodged the guard’s halberd, drew his dagger and engaged the guard. The other guard jammed his halberd in the stone wall, but Bevisric’s strike failed to penetrate his armor.

He then noticed that four more guards were coming his way. He quickly ran away, readying his bow at the same time. Suddenly he turned and let loose arrows. He managed to hit two of them before the rest overpowered him.

At midnight, the others were at the base of the prison walls. Gorfang would scale the prison walls, then drop a rope to the others. This he did. When he reached the top, he could sense that there were no guards nearby. He anchored the rope and signaled for the others to start climbing.

When the guards got too close, Gorfang Befuddled them. He had to Befuddle one of the two when that guard shook it off. Finally, all had made it to the top.

They dispatched the two guards, one by slitting his throat, the other by throwing him off the wall. Uller put on one of the guards’ armor, which just fitted him. Another guard approached, but saw through the deception. Gorfang Befuddled him, then knocked him unconscious, but not before the guard had cried a warning. Three more guards came, and Uller, Gorfang, and Tor engaged them. Gulblomst blew a Firearrow, but hit Uller in the leg, knocking him down.

Gorfang was staggered by a blow to the head. Uller, who had healed himself, mangled both his opponent’s arms, whereupon he ran away. Tor impaled his spear through another guard’s arm, knocking him out of the combat for the moment. Gulblomst blew another Firearrow at the remaining guard, but missed. He attempted to run away through Gulblomst. She blew another Firearrow, but missed again. The guard then hit her with the flat of his blade, knocking her out.

Two more guards had arrived, and Tor and Uller engaged them. Uller fumbled once, slashing his leg, but he killed one of them with a critical to the head. Then the guard that Tor had previously put out of action came back into the fray. He ran right into Uller’s blow, killing him. Tor then planted his spear through his guard, putting him out of action.

Since Gorfang had been hurt badly, it was decided that he and Gulblomst, who was no fighter, would return to the inn. Uller, still wearing his guard uniform, went towards the guard room at the top of the wall. Tor followed behind in the shadows.

As Uller entered the guard room, he was attacked by a guard. The blow missed, and Uller quickly silenced him with a blow to the chest. Tor noticed more guards on the walls armed with crossbows. They conferred briefly, then started a fire in the guard room to cause confusion. Then

they descended inside the tower and Tor set out stealthily to cross the courtyard.

Just as he did, a spell ripped through the air and hit Tor. He was Palsied in the chest, head, and twice in the left arm. A voice, presumably the caster, called for Uller to haul the new prisoner into another tower.

Uller dragged Tor into the tower, where a sorcerer and two guards were waiting. Suddenly Uller attacked the sorcerer, smashing the sorcerer’s chest. The two guards then engaged him.

Tor valiantly tried to shake off the Palsies and managed to shake off three of the four. As he did, Uller managed to put the two guards out of action, killing one, just as two more guards entered. Both he and Tor engaged the two, whereupon they quickly put them out of action.

Now they decided on a different approach. Uller and Tor would pretend that they were guard and prisoner. They descended into the prison. Encountering ten unarmed guards, Uller told them that he was taking his prisoner to the magic detention level, and also told them of some kind of disturbance going on at the surface. Five of them went upstairs to investigate, the others first bound Tor, picked up wicked-looking halberds, then accompanied Tor and Uller to the cells.

After gong down some stairs, and along a hallway with rooms off of the hallway, they reached the cell room, a large circular room with cells along the perimeter. The cells were barred and locked. Inside one of them were Boo-boo, Martlet, Asmoufr, and Tudor!

Also inside a cell was Bevisric, sullen. He had been brought here by the guards. Apparently he had been irritating to the guards, for they had beaten him, then liberally doused him with offal.

The five other guards left Tor in the care of the cell keeper, who had a chair and a strange pile of lead balls next to it. He was a hulk of a man, two meters of solid muscle. Tor was placed in a cell, but just as the jailer closed the cell door, Uller attacked him. He missed. The jailer yelled for help, then ran towards his chair, with Uller close behind.

Tor quickly extricated himself with the key, then threw it towards Boo-boo’s cell. They freed themselves at the same time as the five guards came back down into the room. They didn’t, however, free Bevisric! The jailer had reached his pile of balls and threw one at Uller. It scored with devastating force, but Uller parried the blow.

The five guards had formed a line as the four piled out and moved to engage. Boo-boo threw the key towards another cell, but it fell short and he had to go retrieve it.

Meanwhile, the jailer threw another ball, but Uller dodged it and missed his return blow.

Asmoufr quickly stepped inside his opponent’s reach as did Martlet. Tor was missed, then was able to pick up the spear that Uller had quickly rolled towards him. Tudor failed to dodge and the halberd penetrated his right leg. The guard dropped it and pulled out his kukri. The jailer now used his fists. They did far more damage than they should have, but Uller fought the two guards. He put one out of action with a blow to the head, but was also hit in return.

Asmoufr was hit in the head and fell. Tudor pulled the halberd out and started to heal. Uller again dodged the jailer’s punch, but his return blow bounced off the jailer’s armor. A sorcerer had been released from his cell and he immediately began casting a spell. Apparently the cells had some kind of magic-inhibiting material, preventing any spells from passing through the cell door. Boo- boo went on to the next cell.

Martlet was knocked unconscious as he moved to grapple his opponent. Tor, fighting two on one, was missed. The guard who had knocked Asmoufr out headed towards the freed sorcerers. One of them Teleported away. The other yelled, “Everyone drop your weapons!” Uller and Tor, thinking that the sorcerer would help, did so. The spell Stupefied all the guards except the jailer, who continued to pound at Uller, who kept dodging.

Uller now picked up his weapon, causing the sorcerer to cry, “Don’t cut him!” Another sorcerer had been released, who began a spell. The first sorcerer told Boo-boo not to release any more sorcerers, for one of the remaining two was a vampire, and he was not telling Boo-boo which was which. Uller again dodged the jailer’s blows, who was then Stupefied. The other sorcerer changed into a bird and flew out of the cell room.

The sorcerer then told us, “Let’s go. I have a plan.” After releasing Bevisric, they all left the cell room and down the hall. Except, that is, for Tudor. He had died from his wound. The sorcerer told them that there would be guards waiting at the top of the stairs leading out of the lower level. When he asked who the worst fighter was, Asmoufr raised his hand. The sorcerer told him not to resist the coming spell.

Suddenly, Asmoufr was about 30 centimeters tall123. Placing him of Uller’s back, he told Asmoufr to Heal Uller when he got in trouble.

Replenishing his magic points by Tapping a guard’s POW, he said that we should try to make our escape up the stairs. “Ordinarily, I’d Teleport out of here, but they’ve strung fine poisoned wires all through my Homing Circle.”

Armed with the guard’s halberds, and wearing their armor, if it fit, they made their charge up the stairs. And ran right into some arbalest bolts.

Martlet was hit in the abdomen and died. His body over-balanced Boo-boo and he pulled his leg as he fell. Reaching the top, there were three guards with halberds besides the two arbalest- wielding guards. Uller engaged two of them. The first he dodged, the second he didn’t. He was gutted, and died.

Bevisric managed to slip inside a guards reach at the same time as the sorcerer cast a spell, warping all of the guards halberds. Then, when Bevisric tinked, the sorcerer shouted to retreat. This they did, and they were not followed.

They appeared to be truly stuck now. After locking the guards into the cells, the sorcerer verified that his Homing Circle was trapped.

They set up in a defensive posture in case the guards tried an attack. There they sat, waiting for inspiration. If Boo-boo had enough magic points to be able to Discorporate, he might be able to find Gorfang and Gulblomst and they might be able to clear out the Homing Circle.

Morbidly, the sorcerer noted that since slaves aren’t put in jail, if Boo-boo and company claimed to be the sorcerer’s slaves, then when they were recaptured they wouldn’t be put back in the magical detention area. Boo-boo pointed out that since they weren’t even guilty of a crime that his reasoning was flawed.

Then the sorcerer had an idea. There was a tub in one of the rooms in the hall. It had to have a drain, and people small enough could negotiate that drain. But the amount of magic points it would take to Diminish everyone!

By Tapping the remaining guards’ POW, plus Asmoufr volunteering part of his own soul, the sorcerer was able to get enough magic points to do the job.

But someone had to stay behind to put the tub back in place and to stall any pursuit for as long as possible. It was decided that Bevisric would do so.

First Tor, then Asmoufr, then Boo-boo, then finally the sorcerer himself shrunk and disappeared down the drain. Boo-boo had taken with him a wood splinter that hefted much like a

  1. His SIZ had been Diminished to 1!

spear. The sorcerer’s last words to Bevisric were, “Tell them that we Teleported out. And you’ll know when they come when you hear the chains.”

Tor quickly went as fast as possible, and he was soon separated from the other three.

Asmoufr, in front, heard the squeak of a rat. Boo-boo gave his splinter to Asmoufr, who readied it. Boo-boo, by virtue of his Second Sight ability, saw the rat. He cast Disruption at it, and it died. A few centuries later, he did it again. And again, from behind.

They took the first crack in the drainpipe, but it led to a dead end, where there was a rat’s nest. Finally, they met a beetle near another crack. Boo-boo failed to Disrupt it, and the beetle’s mandible snapped off Asmoufr’s splinter. Then Boo-boo Disrupted and killed it.

Realizing that beetles lived near the surface, they took the crack where the beetle had come from. Finally, they came to a solid wood obstruction. But to get to it, they would have to cross a trail of ants.

The sorcerer cast Form/Set Wood and made a hole in it. Then they ran through the ant trail and climbed through the wood. They found themselves atop a plank of wood. Above them was the night sky. They had escaped.

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