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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 2 — Sofi
~ fourth-day, 28th of the sixth season, shrinking halflight

Protecting themselves against the heat with wet cloths or magic, they left the goose lake and headed northeast into the jungle. Using Belvin's magic, they walked for about 20 minutes. Kytharrah heard and smelled a flowing stream up ahead, and Belvin let him go forward and scout a bit. After finding a log that was lying across the stream, he came back and pantomimed to the others the act of moving across a balance beam. They did not really understand what he meant, but they went forward together to see.

   Belvin and Leokas explained that the tree had naturally fallen, though not too long ago. Leokas found what appeared to be small, humanoid prints on the log from someone who was barefoot. Kytharrah sniffed them. "Smell Szordrin," he said.

   "Huh," said Belvin.

   "Some kind of fiend passed by here, perhaps," said Hakam.

   "Are these gnome footprints?" asked Solisar. "Was not Szordrin's master raised by gnomes?"

   "They are a little too large for gnome feet," said Leokas. "Gnomes are even smaller than halflings, but I suppose if it was a big-footed gnome,..."

   "If you are all willing to wait for me to perform the incantations," said Solisar, "I can search the area beyond with my arcane eye."

   Solisar removed a bit of bat fur from his spell component pouch and began a series of complex motions and utterances. In the meantime, the others refilled their water and looked around the area west of the stream. A short distance to the north was a small lake, which emptied into this stream.

   Suddenly, Solisar appeared to go into a trance or coma, as his natural eyes stopped functioning, and he began to see from a point distant from his body. He sent the visual sensor north along the stream to come out over the open lake. The lake was 50 or 60 feet across at its widest point. Beautiful cascading steps of short waterfalls tumbled down into it from a rocky hill to the northwest, flowing between two large boulders. There was a small beach and clearing on the west side of the lake and a larger beach and clearing on the east side.

   Solisar immediately saw the source of the smoke on the east side. There was a small circle of stones there with a hot bed of ash and charcoal, upon which was placed a tiny metal mug. A figure in white clothing was tending to the mug with a long stick. It was a petite and slender young woman, sitting on a small rock next to the firepit. She seemed human and was dressed in a simple, sleeveless, burlap tunic and trousers that went only just past her knees. Her wrists and ankles seemed bound in white cloth strips or bandages, and she was barefoot. Her head was covered in a tied-up cloth or towel, as if she had recently come from a bath.

   Solisar described what he was seeing to his companions. "She is also faintly glowing with a magical aura, but she does not appear to be armed."

   "Ilthian never had a magical aura, correct?" asked Hakam.

   "She did not, no, but Szordrin does."

   "As do Cassiera and Jayce," said Szordrin. "Any being with sorcerous powers does."

   Solisar continued concentrating on her for several moments. "The magic does not reveal any magic items on her person causing the aura; it is simply coming from her herself. Let me take my sensor closer to her."

   He zoomed the sensor right up over her little mug. She seemed to be boiling a few roots, a rather pitiful meal. He then looked up closely at the woman. She was pale and had a cute face, with a button nose and eyes that were a bit reddish-brown.

   "What are the colors of her eyebrows?" asked Szordrin. "For that will be the color of her hair."

   "They are brown," said Solisar. "Her eyes, however, are not typical for a normal human. They are very red."

   "She is likely of mixed blood, as am I," said Szordrin.

   "Yes," agreed Solisar, "red eyes are often present on those with a demon, devil, or night hag as an ancestor, though I could not tell you which in the present case. I have only read about red eyes; I have not seen any to compare the subtle differences. This is, of course, why Kytharrah thought that her feet smelled like yours, Szordrin."

   "We should approach carefully," said Hakam, "with cordiality, at least at first. Can we cut through the trees here to reveal ourselves on the opposite side of the lake from her?"

   This was done easily enough. Kytharrah pressed ahead of the others and into a small clearing of grass and sand west of the lake. He immediately saw the woman that Solisar had described on the other side.

   The woman sprang up, like a pouncing tiger, and spun around in the air to face him, landing perfectly on her toes in a defensive posture, like some of the persons Kytharrah had wrestled with in the past. She carried no weapon but the tiny stick with which she was tending the fire. She stared directly at the minotaur and seemed to be waiting for him to make the first move.

   Most humans stood on their feet, he thought, yet she was on her toes like him. Kytharrah gave her a little bow, similar to how a dog might bow when ready to play. Kytharrah was not the best at understanding human facial expressions, but her expression definitely changed in response.

   Hakam stepped forward out from behind a thick palm-like bush and spoke. He noted that the tongues spell that he had cast did not automatically change his words into another language; he spoke in Common, which implied that she did as well. "We come in peace!" he shouted over the sound of the nearby waterfalls.

   The woman shouted back. "I... stand on the other side of this lake... in peace!" They could not determine whether her tone was a strange accent or simply the result of uncertainty or fear.

   Szordrin was trying to sneak around the southern end of the lake to get close enough to her to read her thoughts. He stepped into the stream; it was only about three feet deep.

   Suddenly, the woman turned to look directly in Szordrin's direction. The trees were still blocking their line of sight to each other, but the others, now moving fully into her view, could see her trying to spot the one she could somehow sense hiding in the foliage. Szordrin could read nothing at all of the thoughts in her mind.

   "We are only seeking information," Hakam shouted over the water. "We would like to show you a receipt for the purchase of a magical item." He held the copy of the document in his hand and waved it. "A rod used for interplanar travel."

   "Do I look dangerous?" she called back.

   "We did not want to come upon you suddenly and surprise you," said Solisar.

   "These are dangerous parts of the multiverse," said Hakam. "We always favor caution."

   "I cannot see that paper from here, but I suppose you could come over here and we can wigwag."

   Kytharrah did not waste any time in making his way over. He climbed up the nearby ledge to the north and bounded in two big leaps across the two large boulders at the base of falls and then landed on the other shore. She hopped back a yard and turned to face the minotaur who stood two and a half feet taller than she. She still looked somewhat confused and nervous.

   "Let us cross the lake, Kamil," said Belvin, but Kamil made grunting noises. The water looked too deep for his camel to easily ford across. "Fine, we shall go around it. Wait for me," he called to the others, who were already taking the longer route, back through the bushes, over the tree log, and through the thick trees to reach her clearing.

   Kytharrah tried to give the woman a friendly grin, while he waited for the others, but she stepped back another yard from him.

   "Kytharrah, no playing!" shouted Hakam.

   Hearing the group approaching from the south and flanking her, she adjusted her posture once again. She did not look away from the minotaur, but she was clearly aware of where each of the others were as well.

   Kytharrah came up and plopped himself right down by the firepit. He pulled out his everburning torch and held it up proudly for her to see.

   She smiled and, for the first time, did not seem frightened by him.

   "You may call me Sofi?" she stated, though it sounded more like a question. He partly extended her hand to shake his paw, but then rethought this and pulled it back.

   "Unlike our minotaur friend," said Solisar, approaching her firepit slowly, "we could not make the jump across those rocks and had to take the long route. His name is Kytharrah, 'Friendly Red Beast' in my native tongue. I am Solisar Keryth."

   Then he spoke to Kytharrah. "Kytharrah, come join us over here on this side of her, so that she is not surrounded." The minotaur obeyed. Her posture seemed to relax a bit. She stood on her feet now, for one, instead of on her toes.

   The others stood in an arc, and no one said anything for an awkward moment. The woman stood just under five-and-a-half feet tall. Her bare arms looked quite muscular. She reminded them, in terms of her general build, of Loreene, in prime physical condition, all muscle, though Loreene was much taller. Hakam noted that she gave off no chaotic aura that his special blessing from Anachtyr would reveal.

   Then the woman who called herself Sofi shook her head, as if snapping herself out of a daze. "Forgive me for my silence;" she said. "I have not seen other bloods in a long time. Uh, welcome to my... well, it is not really my case, just a place where I call kip, but it is where I am currently finding peace."

   She had a strange accent and lingo that none of them could place, nor did Szordrin or Hakam's spells provide anything more than the literal meaning of such words as "bloods" or "case".

   Hakam again brought out the receipt copy from the Interlink Consortium. He handed it to her. "We are looking for the purchaser of this item. Is it you?"

   She quickly shook her head. "No. No. It was not me. I did not even know the number of this island. You are looking at all my possessions now, mark." She held her arms wide. "I have nothing." She handed back the receipt. "I do not know any of the names on that paper."

   "Perhaps you can still help us," said Hakam, taking back the paper.

   "I do not have much to offer you in the way of hospitality," she said quickly, before Hakam could continue, "no bub or anything, only water, but please feel free to set your things down and rest your backs and feet a bit." She sat back down on her rock. "This weather is hot; you are welcome to bathe in the the pond; the water is cool and fresh. I am boiling some roots that I found. I am happy to share them with you." She spoke rapidly and awkwardly, as if she was not used to carrying on conversation with others and did not know the proper things to say.

   "Thank you for your hospitality," said Hakam, "but it looks like you barely have enough to feed yourself. We have more than enough of our own rations."

   Kytharrah handed her some of his own rations to share.

   "Thank you, 'Friendly Red Beast', but may I ask what that is, first? I have a... sensitive diet."

   Kytharrah shrugged, having no idea what it was that he was actually eating. "Food?"

   Hakam explained that it was salbread, a bread made by halflings and favored by wildspace sailors. It lasted for many tendays. "It has a citrus flavor," he added.

   She took the biscuit from Kytharrah and tasted it. She smiled and looked at it more closely. "This is top-shelf!" she said. "I apologize for asking about it, but I have to be very careful. I cannot accept meat, as it is dead flesh, which I have promised never to touch." She ate the biscuit happily but slowly. She did not consume it like someone ravenously hungry or underfed, though the meager meal that she was cooking in her mug would have suggested otherwise.

   "Oh!" she said suddenly, remembering something. "Forgive my appearance; I have just come from washing my hair." She raised her hand to the towel there as if to remove it and then paused, before dropping her hand again as if changing her mind.

   "How long have you lived here on this island?" asked Solisar.

   "Yes," said Hakam. "The shipment of the item on the receipt that I showed you was made to this very island, five years ago. Were you here at that time?"

   "I was in Coliar at that time," she replied, "but I have only been on this island... a few months? Well, they call them 'seasons' here."

   Belvin leaned forward and peeked into her mug. "Cassava?" he asked.

   "The plant has leaves in sets of three," she said. "I do not know its name."

   "Cassava," Belvin repeated, "a good source of sugar. Sometimes, they have sets of seven or nine leaves instead. They cook better if you sear them on the coals first before boiling them."

   "I shall have to try that next time. Thank you."

   "Have you noticed signs of any previous occupants on this island?" asked Hakam, trying to keep the group on task.

   "I have only been on this island for a few seasons;" she repeated. "I move from place to place, as I do not believe that I am permitted to settle down any one place for too long. I have never seen another person here, just lizards and birds like all the other islands; however, there is something very strange here."

   She continued. "About a half mile from here, north, there is a chasm or gorge. It seems as if the island is slowly breaking in two at that point. I have explored everything on this side of the chasm, but I have never crossed it to the other side. If you wish to come with me later, I can show you why. You can rest here and we can hike there later."

   "Excuse me," said Szordrin, who had been silent for the conversation so far and still appeared as his old master. "Do not be alarmed, but my current appearance is actually an illusion, and the spell is about to fade. It is nothing to be worried about."

   "Oh," she said, sounding confused once again. "Okay."

   Szordrin's form shifted, gaining height and losing years and weight.

   She tilted her head and looked at him intently, taking his face in — too intently, enough to make Szordrin feel uncomfortable.

   "Nice to meet you,... well, the real you." She looked away from him and at the others. "Actually, I have only met Solisar and Friendly Red Beast by name. What are the rest of your names? I was so peery that I forgot to ask."

   The others gave their names in turn. Szordrin was the last to give his, and she looked at him again and smiled shyly at him.

   "You and I might have more in common than I at first thought, Szordrin," she said. She raised her hand again to her towel. "Forgive me, sometimes my appearance can be off-putting to visitors on other worlds, but I do not think that I will have that problem with you."

   She let loose the towel. Her shoulder-length brown hair tumbled down. The act also revealed a pair of goat-like white horns sprouting from the top of her forehead and curling backwards.

   Kytharrah bounced up and down with excitement and grinned widely.

   She smiled back at him. "Yes, I have horns, just like you!" She had gathered by now that Kytharrah was much like a child in manner, and her tone to him was now different than it was to the others.

   Kytharrah could no longer hold back and forgot Hakam's earlier order. "Play?"

   "It would be rude to my other guests to play without ensuring that everyone is first comfortable," she said gently, "but I would be happy to play with you later!"

   She looked back at the others now and shrugged. "So, this is me."

   "Yes," said Hakam, still pursuing his goal, "we would indeed be interested in seeing this other side of the island. However, we are content for you to finish your meal first."

   "Are you sure that you do not want to share?" she asked again.

   Kytharrah was happy to sample a little bite.

   "So, what is your ride?" she asked tentatively, seeming uncomfortable with the awkward silence while she finishing her last of the two roots.

   "What? My ride?" said Belvin. "Kamil is a camel."

   She shook her head. "I am so sorry. Ignore my Cager lingo. Why are you here? Why did you come to this of all islands? Is it simply because of this receipt? Why is the delivery of this item so important to you? Cutters do not come to Coliar often."

   Hakam elaborated a bit further. "The item is connected to a foe of ours whom we have been tracking."

   "May I ask what sort of foe? None of you are evil, so I presume that your foe is."

   Szordrin answered, "The rod is connected to the murder of my former master."

   She looked at Szordrin with genuine compassion. "I am so sorry to hear that!"

   "Moreover," said Hakam, "The gods have informed me that Szordrin's master was connected to another man who is a great danger to everyone."

   "So," clarified Belvin, "our quest is a bit of a personal vendetta, but also something much greater."

   She nodded with a somber look on her face. "I mark that," she said. Then she took a final bite of her cassava root before asking, "Where is your kip?"

   "Pardon our ignorance," said Hakam, "but we do not know what the word 'kip' means."

   She blushed and looked down. "Oh right, again. Sorry! Uh, your case? Ugh! Your home? Where are you from? I am not very good with talking to people; I do not see them very often."

   "We are all from the planet Toril," said Hakam.

   "I am from the city of Sigil. I assume that you have heard of it?"

   Szordrin and Solisar had at least heard of Sigil. It was the legendary city supposedly at the very center of the multiverse, if such a statement meant anything at all. There was no shortage of sages and scholars who balked at such an idea, but here was a woman claiming to live there, so at least the existence of the place seemed true. Solisar knew that it was said to float at the top of a great spire in the center of the Outlands, the neutral Outer Plane that connected, cosmologically, if not literally, to all of the other Outer Planes and the realms of the many gods.

   "I know of it, yes," said Solisar. "Is it true that the city is ruled by the Lady of Pain?"

   "It is true," she said.

   The Lady of Pain was one of the most enigmatic characters of the known multiverse. She was not a goddess; she seemed to have no worshipers and granted no divine spells, but her power seemed comparable to that of many of the gods. In fact, she had somehow banned all deities from her city. It was impossible for the powers to enter Sigil at all, and lesser beings, mortal and immortal alike, could only enter — or exit — the city through established portals.

   It was not surprising to find a tiefling from Sigil. Sigil was to the multiverse what the Rock of Bral was to wildspace — one was likely to find all manner of planar diversity there.

   "Why have you moved around so much from place to place?" asked Szordrin.

   "Well...," she started. "It is complicated." Then a pause. "I am a follower of Pistis Sophia. I have forsworn all worldly possessions in exchange for her guidance in turning to the light."

   "She is one of the ruling archons, is she not?" said Hakam.

   Sofi nodded. "I believe so. Although, to be honest, I have not tumbled to much more than that about her."

   "What is an archon?" asked Leokas.

   "They are the lawful and noble residents of the the Seven Mounting Heavens of Celestia," explained Hakam. "Many are in the service of Anachtyr and other noble gods, and he has even granted me the power to summon some of their lesser varieties. However, the archons as a whole are ruled by the most powerful of their several orders, the tome archons, or archon paragons. Every paragon archon is a unique being. Pistis Sophia is the ruler of the Fourth Heaven. The gods have their own realms, and she has no power over their domains, but the archons of the Fourth Heaven are her subjects. She is called 'the Ascetic' by the writings of my church."

   "It is true," said Sofi, "and I seek to follow in her steps." She held up the cloth that she had formerly worn around her head. "I am not even supposed to own this towel, but I have this... quirk where I cannot bear the feeling of wet hair on my forehead if the rest of me is dry. Does that make sense to any of you?"

   They stared at her blankly, but Kytharrah nodded to encourage her.

   She shrugged. "I did not think that it would." She looked defeated momentarily but then perked up again. "I also use it as a belt, but my pants stay on just fine, so I know that that is a weak excuse. I hope that she is forgiving of this one luxury. Okay, I also own my metal mug here. So, she has to forgive me two things. Three strikes before you are out, right? I think that I heard someone say that on Sigil once. I have no idea what it references. Do you know? Help! I am rambling." She blushed again.

   "It is good that you have chosen to live your life in alignment with the law," said Hakam.

   "Well, I am trying to," she said. "I am far from perfect. I admit that I have a barmy temper, but I take no joy in that; I hate it. Anyhow, can we talk about someone else's faults now?" She laughed a little.

   When no one else immediately volunteered any personal flaws, she turned back to Szordrin, who had originally asked her about why she moved about. "To answer your question more fully, Szordrin, my vows forbid me to claim any permanent shelter as my own. The ground by this pond is soft. The weather here is always warm, so I do not get cold. I do not mind the rain and find it refreshing." She paused again, and then mumbled something about not minding her hair being wet if the rest of her body was also wet and how, admittedly, this quirk made no sense at all. "Nevermind!"

   "Have you traveled to any of the other islands?" asked Solisar.

   "I was originally dropped off in Coliar by an astraljammer," she replied. "They check in on me every year or so, and I have them drop me off at a new island when they do, to scan what Pistis Sophia has to teach me in a new place."

   "An astraljammer?" asked Belvin.

   "Spelljammers for traveling the Astral Plane," explained Solisar. He then asked the others, "That is what the neogi were after, was it not?"

   "One travels through the Astral Plane whenever he uses teleportation magic of any kind," said Hakam. "Why would a ship be needed?"

   "Yes," Solisar replied, "but if you want to travel within the gravity-less void of the Astral Plane itself, having a vessel in which to do so is most useful."

   "Did you choose this island at random?" asked Hakam. "Or where there any signatures from the Astral Plane that led you here?"

   "I came to Coliar, at first seeking a place of great isolation, where I could meditate. I believe that I have been guided to each specific island by my patron, for whatever reasons she may have." She then added. "As you must know, there are hundreds of thousands of islands in Coliar. It is exceptionally rare to 'accidentally' run into another person here, unless on one of the port islands or its immediate neighbors in the same jet stream. And the fact that this island has this 'strange thing' that I want to show you — I am beginning to think that I was correct that it was her will to place me on this very island. I do not know why I am here, yet I know that it is ordained."

   Hakam nodded. "It is indeed the will of the gods," he asserted. "They have been guiding us, too, on our journey."

   Szordrin verbally agreed, which caused several of his companions to look at him in surprise, as he had never spoken highly of the powers in the past.

   He also whispered something to Ferry, and the weasel scurried down his arm and over to her lap.

   Belvin rolled his eyes at this, but Sofi's red eyes grew wide. "You the cutest ever!" she said to Ferry, as she stroked his downy fur.

   After she had doted on the little mustelid for several minutes, Belvin led Kamil over to her. She patted the camel's nose cautiously.

   Ferry came back to Szordrin and reported that he very much approved of Sofi and that yes, Kytharrah was correct; her feet did indeed smell like his.
Session: 113th Game Session - Friday, Jun 26 2020 from 8:30 PM to 11:30 PM
Viewable by: Public
Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 2 — Faux and Geese
Hakam gingerly poked his head around a tree to look upon the fallen beast. His spiritual sword and hammer hovered over the dinosaur but did not make any attempt to strike it.

   "It is dead," he called back to the others.

   "Move your poisoned dagger away," Belvin called up to Szordrin while dismounting. "I am going to get its skull."

   Szordrin flew down and retracted his dagger from the ground, then poked the dinosaur in the side. It did not stir.

   "How do you expect to carry that skull?" asked Solisar. "It would not even fit in a bag of holding!"


It was less than a hour more of jungle travel to reach the edge of this island. Their campsite was not quite as convenient this time, because of the crowding of the trees, but they made do.

   They sat around a fire in the last hour before the rains and ate their dinner, which included dinosaur meat.

   "You know," said Belvin, "these past few days with lizard people and lizard things reminded me of Yash's vision for us."

   "Which one?" asked Szordrin.

   "The one about three dinosaurs around a jungle pool, who do not see a dark cloud approaching."

   "If I recall correctly," said Solisar, "it was not three dinosaurs. It was a dinosaur, a chameleon, and a crocodile."

   "All jungle reptiles, however," said Belvin, "...such as here on Coliar."

   "Is not this the prophecy that you had already seen?" asked Hakam.

   Belvin shrugged.

   "If not, it certainly would not be shocking to see the prophecy fulfilled here somewhere," said Hakam. "In any case, let us know if you recognize any pools."


They passed another short Coliar night and waited as the day grew brighter and hotter, until once again it was time for their third and final jump to reach Kaw-chi-wee-tee-tee.

   "Are we expecting Onran to be on this next island?" asked Leokas. "As a powerful wizard, could he have faked his death?"

   Szordrin had also secretly been hoping that this was true. Surely, Onran, being a great magician, had the means to do so, but he did not want to appear to the others to hold to such a faint hope.

   "I am concerned that he might have set up defenses on the island," said Hakam.

   "Such as an invisible wall to block people like us from simply gliding down to it?" asked Solisar. "The thought also crossed my mind. Did you actually see him die?" This last question was to Szordrin.

   "I found his body," said the tiefling.

   "But we know that Samber can jump bodies," said Hakam, "and Jayce told us that Onran taught Samber some of his magic. Perhaps Onran did the same."

   "Onran was an aasimar;" said Szordrin, "he was naturally good. It is unlikely that he would have shifted bodies for personal gain."

   "He was being threatened with death," said Hakam. "Maybe it was his last chance to escape. Samber did not want to jump bodies either, but presumably, he had to to escape the mummy's prison."

   Belvin was already in pteranodon form with Kamil miniaturized. It was time to jump.

   As they approached this roughly circular island from the air, they observed that it had a deeper underside than the last two islands, and it seems to have more ponds and lakes. They soon recognized that it also had a much nicer spot to land, a lake near the edge, free — for the most part — from trees surrounding it. Solisar, thankfully, saw no aura of invisible defenses with his magic vision, not that he would have had time to warn the others if he had, as they were moving at too quick a velocity for that. Fearing an aquatic dinosaur in its waters, they guided their gliders above the lake and used feather-falling magic to break in the air and land on the opposite shore.

   The lake, however, was covered in swimming birds, similar to the ducks and geese with which they were familiar on Toril. These scattered from the area in crowded clouds of wings and feathers, as the gliders passed by. The shore itself was covered in goose droppings. "Stinky," said Kytharrah, who, as usual, immediately took in the smells of his new environment.

   No one had any issues landing this time, and they began to pack up their gliders or transform back into humanoid form.

   Besides the water birds, there were many flocks in the sky moving from cluster of trees to cluster of trees.

   Hakam and Solisar, when nearing the island, had each seen some smoke rising from somewhere in the northeast, probably less than a mile away, and they made sure that everyone was aware of it.

   Belvin carefully approached one of the geese-like birds. It seemed to sense that he meant no harm, and then Belvin started honking, cackling, and clucking. It honked right back.

   The druid called back to the cleric. "Hakam, what do you want me to ask her?"

   "Ask if the birds have seen any other creatures that look like us," said Hakam.

   Belvin honked and then gave the translation of the goose's reply. "She says that there is indeed one tall, white-feathered creature that walks like us but cannot fly."

   "Can they point us to this person?" asked Hakam.

   The bird indicated that the creature was to the northeast, the same direction as the small strand of smoke.

   "What hair color does this person have?" asked Szordrin.

   The goose described some off-white feathers as well, but Belvin did not think that the bird was distinguishing feathers from fur, clothing, or hair. "Remember, she is a bird," he said.

   "Onran's hair was white, when I knew him," said Szordrin, and he began to remove his mithral vest. They all wondered what he was doing, as he also took a tiny rolled up piece of parchment from his spell component pouch. The wizard muttered a few words, and his body shortened to five and a half feet tall and appeared to gain a little weight. His hair grew white and his yellow cat eyes turned more golden, almost glowing, and the pupils rounded. The hair and beard stayed rather similar.

   "This was Onran," said Szordrin's voice. "Ask the hen if she recognizes me now."

   "She is a goose, not a hen;" corrected Belvin. "The word 'goose' is already feminine. The males are ganders. Nevertheless, I shall ask her."

   Belvin honked at the water bird, and she cackled back.

   "She says that we all look alike to her," reported Belvin, "but she thinks that you have too many non-white feathers to be whom she saw from the sky."

   Belvin then tried to ask the bird if she had seen any structures, though it seemed to take him a while to explain to the simple creature what a structure even was. He tried ideas of unnatural shapes or extremely large square nests. While not sure that he had communicated the idea clearly to her, she did not seem to have seen any such thing as a "structure" on the island.

   "Do the birds recognize anything strange below the water?" asked Hakam. "Any lights, sparkling surfaces, things that are not rocks?"

   They had seen no such things under the water, just the plants and swimming amphibians and reptiles that they ate.

   Belvin asked if they had any natural predators, and he learned that they did not in this area. They migrated from island to island, and this island was where they came to raise their young.

   "Have any aarakocra landed here?" asked Solisar.

   None had in the bird's memory. "But she is only four years old," said Belvin.

   "I think that we have learned what we can from this goose," said Hakam. "Let us finish packing up the gliders and walk to where we saw the smoke."
Session: 113th Game Session - Friday, Jun 26 2020 from 8:30 PM to 11:30 PM
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Chapter 2 — Spinosaurus vs. Triceratops
The gargantuan predator brought its long head close to the ground, almost touching it, and opened its tooth-filled mouth wide to emit a deep and deafening bellow.

   Kytharrah felt the otherworldly howl deep in his bones. Nevertheless, he just shook it off, grabbed his axe, and readied himself.

   The triceratops, too, was unfazed by the larger dinosaur's roar. It simply kept on strolling calmly after its mate, which had disappeared into the tree cover to the north.

   Leokas rushed south through the trees and climbed up over the embankment. He passed Solisar, who waved a wand and sent a pulse of magic zipping through the trees to slam into the bony crest along the massive dinosaur's snout.

   From the air, two rays of fire blasted forth from Szordrin's hands. Each struck the dinosaur. It called out, took one long stride, and chomped down on the triceratops' hindquarters. The long conical teeth of the predator easily punctured the thick, scaled skin of the triceratops.

   The triceratops cried out, at last freed from the power of Hakam's calming enchantment, and began to run, but the other dinosaur lifted its back half completely off the ground, so that only the triceratops' front feet were making contact with the earth. Its rear legs moved about uselessly.

   From the top of the embankment, Leokas could easily see the tail of the giant dinosaur. It was finned and shark like. He began unleashing arrows.

   The attacking dinosaur growled and twitched as arrow after arrow plunged into its hide, followed by numerous magic missiles from Solisar's wand.

   The triceratops shook its hips and fell from the bigger dinosaur's mouth. It spun quickly around to face its attacker and lunged forward, raising its thick neck and driving its two long horns into the other beast's chest, just between its arms.

   As the dinosaurs battled just outside the cover of the trees, Hakam laid his hands on Kytharrah to enhance the protectiveness of his armor, while Belvin called out a powerful enchantment to boost the range of his companions' weapons.

   The carnivore, three arrows embedded in its lower body and burned and bleeding, twisted its head around to grab at its dinner's neck. The triceratops instinctively defended itself by lifting its head back to protect the vulnerable spot with its bony frill and knocking the bigger beast's head to the side, where it clamped down instead on the arch of the triceratops' back. The wounded triceratops bucked and yanked free, but the predator also slashed and gashed with its long thumb-claws, cutting deep into the triceratops' bulky side.

   Kytharrah dropped his axe and reached for his minotaur-sized bow, joining Leokas at launching projectiles at the dinosaur, though not as rapidly, of course. A gust of wind, triggered by Belvin's magic, guided the shot into the back of the beast's neck.

   Szordrin drew his new dagger of venom from its sheath and tossed it through the air. Another rush of wind kept the blade spinning through the air, but the throw fell short, and the dagger drove into the ground at the four-toed foot of the towering monster.

   The triceratops bellowed and gored its foe once again, this time severely wounding the larger creature in the neck. It then tried to back up into the shelter of the trees, but the other dinosaur was faster. It stepped to the side, ignoring its own wounds and bit down once again. This time, it used its clawed hands and its bite together to press its prey to lie flat on the ground with the force of its weight behind it. The triceratops let out a shriek. It was pinned, prone, and helpless.

   A mystical sword and hammer appeared in the air on each side of the upright reptile. The hammer missed, but the sword swung down on the back of the creature's neck. The magical force burst a major vessel, and blood spurted. The dinosaur growled and raised its head, swinging it over rapidly to snap at the strange flying thing that had harmed it. As its head turned, Leokas saw the perfect shot. His wind-guided arrow struck the dinosaur in the left eye and burst out on the other side. The huge reptilian body flopped over lifeless and slammed into the ground. The triceratops got up and fled away from the clearing.
Session: 113th Game Session - Friday, Jun 26 2020 from 8:30 PM to 11:30 PM
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Chapter 2 — Stampede!
~ third-day, 27th of the sixth season, shrinking halflight

Belvin, in the lead, saw a clearing up ahead through the thick trees. They seemed to be walking parallel now to an embankment or short earthen cliff about ten feet high. Leokas estimated that they have come about four and a half miles since landing.

   They cautiously approached the clearing. There had been clearings here and there on the last island, but this one was particularly wide, about 30 feet across. Leokas knelt down and looked at the ground. It was covered in leaves, broken branches, and dried mud. "There are countless animal tracks here," said Leokas, "going in all directions, ground birds and lizards of course, but many of them are very large, dinosaurs perhaps, like in Chult. The leaves and sticks have been ground down, trampled under heavy weight."

   Kytharrah sniffed some of the tracks. "New," he said.

   Leokas agreed. "Yes, there are no puddles in them, so these here are from this morning, unlike those there."

   Szordrin looked around the area for traps and was convinced that the area was clear. Belvin believed that the clearing was the meeting place of animals. It seemed like a wide natural "highway" led down over the embankment coming from the south to end here in the clearing.

   "The trail is leading perpendicular to the way we want to go," said Leokas. "Let us just cross and continue on."

   Kytharrah began to move over to the embankment to take a peek over it.

   Just then, everyone heard the sound of crunching leaves and branches approaching rapidly from the south. Leokas, with his elvish hearing, noticed the sound first and quickly darted out of the clearing back into the cover of the trees. "Incoming!" he shouted in warning, as he unslung his magic bow.

   With a cloud of feathers and dust, a small flock of very large and tall birds rushed over the embankment. They looked something like the running birds that some of them had seen in Chult called ostriches. These birds had similar long legs for high-speed running and small vestigial wings, but they had bulkier legs and bodies and shorter necks than ostriches. Even so, they were still taller than Kytharrah. The birds' beaks were large and thick and curved to two sharp points at the top and the bottom, looking almost like a hatchet or throwing axe in shape.

   These "axebeaks" ran off the embankment at a speed of close to perhaps 40 miles per hour. Six of the seven birds landed on the ground in the clearing with a flutter of their small wings and kept right on running. The sixth stumbled and fell flat with a squawk.

   Belvin had barely spun around to the sound of the approaching birds just in time to see one of them coming straight at him. He sprung out of the way just in time, as the terrified bird charged past.

   Likewise, another of the birds nearly missed crashing into Kytharrah as it darted by. The same bird slowed down at bit as it saw its path was blocked by Kamil. It squawked loudly, and the camel turned and bolted, and the bird followed right after him. Kamil veered into the trees out of the path of the charging bird, which kept on running.

   "Kamil! Wait!" shouted Belvin.

   Kytharrah reached the embankment and stepped up enough to peek up over the edge for a one-second glance, as the fallen bird got back up on its feet and began to run after its flockmates. The minotaur saw two gigantic animals running full speed down the wide path towards them. They were only 50 to 100 feet away and rapidly approaching. He could feel the rumble of their footfalls shaking the ground. He had never seen creatures anything like them before. They ran on four thick legs, which looked somewhat like the legs of the magic elephant that Hakam sometimes summoned from the marble figurine, but their heads were completely different. They had three massive horns. Two long and twisted horns jutted from the back of their heads, and another grew from their beaked snouts. The skulls were shaped something like a shield, or like the dragon Sseth's head, with a thick bony ridge extending in the back. Also, instead of wrinkly gray skin like the elephant, these two creatures seemed to have dusky scales.

   The two animals were also charging. Though not as fast as the running birds, they were sure to reach the embankment in seconds.

   Kytharrah spun around with a snort, swung out his long arm and grabbed Belvin and yanked him back into the woods with him out of the clearing.

   Szordrin also moved into the shelter of the trees, nearly tripping on all the roots and vines now present, since Belvin was no longer in front of him. With a wave of a wand, multiple copies of his form appeared. Deeper in the woods, numerous Solisars also materialized.

   Belvin sprung from root to root toward his camel, who had obeyed him and stopped, and mounted his animal companion.

   Hakam, seeing their minotaur peek over the embankment and respond by moving deeper into the trees, raised his holy symbol toward the earthen slope and waited. Leokas, ten yards north of him, nocked three arrows simultaneous, an arrow between each of his fingers, and also waited a brief moment to see what was coming over the ridge. "Heel!" he commanded Sif, and she obeyed.

   The ground rumbled loudly enough for everyone to hear and feel now. The birds continued fleeing, and most of them had made it across the clearing and into the trees at the other end. A second later, the two bulky, three-horned, quadrupedal dinosaurs came into view at the top of the embankment.

   "Be calm!" Hakam shouted.

   The nearest of the triceratops continued running at full gallop and came crashing down the embankment. It landed on its four massive, multihooved feet and kept on running. Its companion, however, suddenly stopped its gallop, but its forward momentum caused it to skid through the soil and off the edge. It slid down the steep slope and thudded on its stomach.

   Leokas recognized the beasts as ytepka in Chultan and knew them to be herbivores — Yashiera had kept a miniaturized one as a pet — but acting on reflex, he released the bowstring but managed to hold on to two of the arrows between his fingers. The stray missile struck the charging dinosaur and glanced of its head armor harmlessly.

   Solisar, suspecting that there was a still-larger dinosaur coming, cast a spell to boost his speed.

   Kytharrah hustled over to the embankment again and took a second peek, as the still-rampaging triceratops entered the trees at the end of the clearing, followed by squawking from the axebeaks at the rear of the retreating flock. The minotaur saw yet another creature running down the wide path, this one even bigger than the previous two but running on two powerful hind legs. It was sort of like a bird in shape to Kytharrah, and even had some patches of green feathers on its upper torso among its gray, scaled skin, but it had two short arms with long claws instead of wings. Its head and long jaw reminded him of the crocodile that Belvin could transform into with his magic trick. On the creature's back was something that reminded him of the sail of some of the spelljammers that he saw while working at the Rock of Bral.

   As intrigued as he was by this half-second view over the edge, the monster was enormous, three times his own height, definitely large enough to swallow even a big minotaur like him, and it was running even faster than the other two beasts. He sprung back away from the embankment and began to back away again into the tree cover, grunting and gesturing to the others to move deeper into the woods.

   Clutching a tiny feather from his pouch, Szordrin and his duplicate figments magically rose into the air several yards up to get a better view. To the right, he saw Belvin struggling to guide Kamil over thick roots and vines, and to the left, he saw the other triceratops standing back up. Then he saw the bigger dinosaur come into view, sprinting along the path above the embankment. It was bigger even than the ceratosaur that had nearly killed Belvin a year ago.

   "A tyrannosaur with a sail on its back is coming!" he yelled down.

   Belvin reared Kamil and turned back on his mount, prepared to cast a druidic spell. Leokas heard Szordrin's warning and retreated farther west with Sif struggling to keep up with her master. Solisar, and his many copies, all magically sped up, likewise moved quickly through the bushes away from the clearing.

   The remaining triceratops, oblivious to the threat only seconds away from coming over the embankment, trotted calmly over to Kytharrah at the edge of the clearing and sniffed deeply through the two giant nostrils on the side of its beaked snout just under its central horn.

   Kytharrah waved his arms frantically at the friendly beast, trying to get it to follow after its mate. "Go! Go!"

   It turned away from the minotaur, and immediately the pursuing dinosaur came over the embankment in a single long step.

   Belvin screamed out something in Druidic, but it was not clear what magic, if any, had occurred. Szordrin rose higher into the air at an angle, while clutching a tiny glass rod and a bit of fur. Kytharrah backed into the woods even further, dragging Hakam along with him and then shoving the cleric ahead so that he was between the human and the new big monster.

   The dinosaur turned toward the meal that it had been pursuing, which strangely had no fear and simply strolled along. Before it could swing its thick neck down for a bite, there was a blinding flash, followed by a thunder clap, as a bolt of lightning shot forth from Szordrin's fingertips. The dinosaur convulsed from the electrical shock but then shook its head, as if shaking off some minor nuisance.

   Lowering itself onto all fours, it arched its back like a cat trying to look intimidating. Doing so caused its feathers to jut out and the fin of skin on its back to tighten and expand as the spines supporting it stood rigid.

   The gargantuan predator brought its long head close to the ground, almost touching it, and opened its tooth-filled mouth wide to emit a deep and deafening bellow....
Session: 112th Game Session - Monday, Jun 22 2020 from 8:30 PM to 11:30 PM
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Chapter 2 — Jungle Journeying Without the Sun
~ second-day, 26th of the sixth season, growing quarterlight

Dawn came to the floating island numbered 0-0-4-6-2. The short night had passed without any major incidents. When the two sylvan elves were on first watch, they had heard high-pitched sounds being emitted by some flying creatures high up in the trees. Knowing that no mammals lived in Coliar, they discussed the idea that perhaps some lizard or bird species in this planet had also evolved the bat's power of echolocation. When Solisar and Kytharrah were on second watch, during the darkest hours of the starless night, they had noticed strange glowing lights on the trunks of the trees that moved slowly up, high into the canopy, but the phosphorescent lights did not set off Solisar's magical alarm, and they did not risk investigating this observation further.

   While Belvin and Hakam prayed for power from their respective gods, the birds of the jungle sang in joy at a new day from high above their heads at the top of the canopy. Szordrin packed up his hammock, Kytharrah and Leokas rolled up their beds, and Solisar climbed down the rope from the extradimensional space.

   Solisar reminded them about their timeline. "Postmaster Spiraldive said that the islands would be eclipsed at roughly brightest light on the 27th of the sixth season. Today is the 26th, so we have more than 30 hours until then, and we would need to wait at least five hours beyond that for the second, lower island to get far enough away for a safe descent down to it."

   "So we still have nine or ten miles to go in well over 30 hours," said Hakam. "That should not be a problem."

   "I am certain that Belvin and I could make three miles per hour in jungle," said Leokas, "but I am guessing that the rest of you would find it difficult to traverse much faster than a quarter that speed. I estimate that we only made half a mile in our hour of sloshing along the stream last night."

   The wide stream that they had followed was now only a foot deep and five feet wide. It had been joined by smaller streams, coming mostly from the right, as they had followed it the night before.

   "Belvin," said Hakam, "that spell that you used in Chult to drive the vegetation from our path behind you — would you be able to cast it again."

   It seemed like Belvin had forgotten about it, but, having been reminded, he added it to the list of spells for which he was beseeching Thard Harr that day.

   Leokas was looking up at the sky — at least trying to; it was not easy to spot any through the thick tree cover overhead. "Speed may be the least of our concerns," said Leokas. "Even if it were not for these trees, there is no sun in the sky; the light just changes intensity throughout the day. At night, there are no stars or moon. I think that east is that way, but I think it best that Belvin prays to Thard for guidance on this."

   "Maybe we should mark the trees once we get going," said Szordrin, "so that we will recognize if we have walked around in circles."

   "But there is no need for any of that; we have a minotaur with us," said Hakam. Then he spoke to Kytharrah directly. "Which direction is where we landed in our gliders?"

   Kytharrah pointed in a direction that most of them thought was north.

   "Are you certain?" asked Leokas.

   Kytharrah nodded. (Without Ilthian around anymore to encourage him to use words, the minotaur was back to speaking very little.)

   "The stream last night must have subtly been curving left then," said Leokas. "We need to walk that way. I am glad that I did not trust my own senses on this."

   Now that they knew which way was east again, Belvin took the lead on foot, so that he could use his spell; Kamil followed behind him. Belvin prayed, and behind him, the plants and undergrowth, extending back some 30 feet in a cone shape, slowly unraveled and moved away from the area, as if alive. A flurry of tiny lizards, frogs, snakes, and little flightless ground birds hurriedly scattered to take cover as their hiding places betrayed them and moved away.

   "I am sorry, little ones," said Belvin. "All will be restored to normal once we pass through; you will not be harmed."

   In this way, they turned a potentially twelve-hour journey into a three hour one. An extra benefit of this was that they would be able to reach their destination before the increasing temperature became unbearable at brightest light. The temperature was even worse deep in the jungle than it was in either Hisssta or Athanar.

   Half way through the third hour, Hakam's nose began to itch and his eyes began to water. Kytharrah also noticed something in the air, a strong smell of pollen. Hakam managed to avoid a violent fit of sneezing, but he was not comfortable. Thankfully, the potent pollen seemed to only be in a small area of the jungle, and the irritation soon passed.

   At last they exited the jungle and reached the edge of the island at a small clearing with grassy hillocks. Having arrived so early in the day, they were able to spend a good amount of time relaxing. There were puddles of water, left over from the previous night's rain, and with this they were able to remain cool. Leokas started a camp fire, and they ate around it on rocks and a log and joked about some of their past adventures together.

   Solisar periodically looked over the edge of the island, but Chi-wee-wee-seh-kaw, the crescent-shaped island that was their next destination, was not yet visible. It was still some 350 miles or so too far west by his estimates.

   The rains came, right on schedule, filling an area west of their campfire with water and forming a temporary pond. Then night finally followed, and the sounds of the animals in the jungle behind them changed from the chirps and tweets of birds to the calls of frogs and the hisses of small reptilian creatures in the leaves. This night passed with less note than had the previous one.

   In the morning, they were once again woken by a cacophony of bird songs. As the day got brighter, it of course got much hotter. Leokas continued to teach all of them simple tricks for staying cool. For example, he dipped his aba in the water and draped it over his shoulders. Kytharrah splashed in the shallow pond that the rains had formed, but it became little more than scattered mud puddles by the time the light was at its fullest.

   It was still some fifteen hours from the time that they woke until it was time to jump from the edge and glide to their next island. Solisar pointed it out to them, and they agreed that it matched the sketch on the copy of the address slate.

   "How long will we have until Onran's island eclipses this next one?" asked Hakam.

   "It will do so at brightest light tomorrow," said Solisar. "The calculations always seem to be for brightest light."

   "This second island is how wide?"

   "It is listed as being thirteen miles long and seven miles wide. We are crossing at its narrowest part, so aim for the center of the curve of the crescent."


The journey through the jet streams down to Chi-wee-wee-seh-kaw was a shorter one than before, taking two hours, because they had timed the jump better. However, when they were halfway between the islands, it became clear to some of them from their gliders that this particular island did not have any obvious clearings where landing would be safest. It seemed to be jungle trees all the way up to the edge. Landing was going to be more challenging.

   They began shouting to each other over the loud flapping of their hang glider wings. Solisar and Szordrin instructed everyone to pull into a tighter formation. That way, if anyone had issues, the wizards could slow the stray glider or gliders with their spells.

   Hakam expertly banked between two large trunks at just the right moment and landed running, safely underneath the canopy of the jungle. Kytharrah came in behind him safely as well, grunting and grinning.

   The wizards and Leokas, however, came in too high and found themselves stuck high in the branches of immense trees, unharmed, but suspended. Each of them solved his predicament in a unique manner. Solisar simply unattached himself from the glider harness and let himself fall the fifty feet to the ground at the rate of a feather. Having landed safely on the leaf-covered undergrowth, he used telekinetics to jostle and guide the glider from the branches and back down to the canopy floor. Szordrin used his spider-walking spell to suspend himself sideways from the tree. With his free hand, he collapsed the glider and then carried it down the trunk. Leokas balanced on a branch with Sif still tied to his chest, and collapsed his glider. Usually the most skilled climber among them, he shockingly snapped a branch and began to fall, dropping the glider. Thankfully, he was also a superb tumbler; he flipped himself and landed in a handstand at a lower branch, then flipped around like a circus gymnast. Sif yelped and whined, but she was alright. From the ground, Belvin, back in elven form, clapped. Szordrin climbed Leokas' tree to recover his glider from the lower branches.

   Hakam watched all this with a smile as Belvin dressed. Hakam was usually the least agile of the group, being garbed in his heavy banded mail; while in the glider, he just seemed to have a natural sense of how his subtle body motions could control his descent and direction.

   The wildlife on this island was much louder. There were constant screeches, shrieks, chirps, and snapping sounds. It was the 22nd hour of the day, and using Belvin's undergrowth-moving power, they figured that they could easily beat the rains and the darkness to the eastern side of the island, where they would camp, so they set out again, entering the jungle depths.
Session: 112th Game Session - Monday, Jun 22 2020 from 8:30 PM to 11:30 PM
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