Dark Shards

The Speaker in Dreams 12
Brindinford, Goodmonth Week 2.3-2.5 BCY 14500
Session 29

DM Last week our heroes found themselves in a horrific dreamscape, where they were attacked by visions from the Speaker. Now, they wake in the morning, still tired, to the sound of trumpets in the distance.

Julian Julian rolls groggily out of bed and shuffles over to the window, opening the shutters to see what the disturbance is.

DM As herald’s trumpets sound throughout the town, announcing the baron’s desire to speak to his people, you have two choices in the matter. If you want to fight through the crowd, you can hear the speech first hand, otherwise, you’ll find out in a few hours from the criers.

Shael Exhausted and spent, Shael collapses immedietely back into bed.

Julian Julian rubs the sleep from his eyes, gets dressed, and goes to see what’s going on. He checks in with their friends downstairs to see if any suspicious events transpired during the night.

DM He finds most of the patrons sound asleep, exhausted from their partying. The few who are awake are headed out to hear the Baron even as he is. None mention any suspicious events transpiring. A crowd forms outside the baron’s keep around the northeast tower. Less than half of the town’s nearly five thousand citizens are here, but the crowd looks enormous, and agitated. The morning sky seems agitated as well, with heavy black clouds blocking the sunlight.

Julian Unable to see much of anything over the forest of heads, Julian shoulders his way towards the front.

DM The noisy crowd begins to hush as the heralds’ trumpets sound again, and a figure that must be the baron appears on a high balcony near the top of the tower. He is well over six feet tall, dressed in a white tunic and purple cloak. He sports a fine mustache. He raises his hands and silence spreads over the crowd. He begins to speak, his voice not matching his regal image at all. It is flat and monotone, lacking any emotion or inflection whatsoever. He does not pause for any interruptions, nor react to them in any way.

Baron Euphemes “Good people of Brindinford, I address you today with a heavy heart, standing amid the chaos that has befallen our town. Lawlessness and disorder have reigned since this street fair began, and even the efforts of a heroic band of adventurers have not put an end to the madness. While we celebrated these heroes and feasted in their honor, assassins plotted to end their lives. The guards of our fair city have been decimated, some in my own home. The streets are not safe to walk at night. Therefore, I am forced to call upon a new force of law, one that will restore order and wealth to Brindinford. Let it be recorded that I, Baron Euphemes the Second, have decreed this day these new edicts.”

“The street fair is over immediately. All booths must be removed from Eastgate Way before sundown tonight. Any booths, carts, or wagons found on Eastgate Way at sundown will be destroyed. The gates of the city are closed. No one shall enter or leave Brindinford until further notice. The carrying of weapons in the city is prohibited. Anyone seen to be in possession of a weapon will be arrested. The temple of Tal, whose god has not seen fit to defend our city, is closed, and its priests are declared outlaws. A warrant is hereby issued for the arrest of High Priest Forgrim of Tal and Sun’s Champion Marith, as well as all acolytes who have served in the temple. In order to maintain this new order in our fair city, I raise the fyrd. All able bodied citizens are to report to the barracks immediately. Let the forces of lawlessness know that we will brook no disobedience of our law. Defiance will be punished by death, and justice will be executed without delay.”

DM As these last words are spoken, a skeletal being nearly nine feet in height appears on the roof of the tower. A tail like a scorpion’s lashes around behind it, stinging the empty air. The baron turns without another word and disappears into the tower. It levels its gilded polearm at the crowd and waits. Will anyone be foolish enough to challenge it?

Julian Julian’s voice follows the baron, booming over the crowd. “I defended this city in Tal’s name. In response you would drive a knife into my back? Turn to a devil from the pit?”

DM The baron does not reappear, and Julian does not see the hooded figure that lurks behind him. Only the mighty devil, who looks on eagerly, inviting futile resistance.

Julian The paladin turns on his heel and strides away.

DM The crowd is nervous, and many beg him to answer their questions…questions he has no good answers to. What is the creature? What is considered defiance? He was almost assassinated?

Julian “I hope that with time I can answer your questions. For now, I advise that you go to your homes, and keep off the street.” Julian finds himself repeating much the same advice several times.

DM Those Julian speaks with thank him and quickly do as he suggests.

Julian At the edge of the crowd he flags down a message boy and hands him a golden crown. "Run to the temple with the news. There’s a second in it for you if you are the first there.

DM The boy flies like the wind, although Julian has a sinking feeling that the Baron’s edict might not have preceeded an attack on the temple by too great of a timespan.

Julian Julian has faith that there will be time. Surely the forces of Hell will have been disorganized and haphazard in their execution of this plan.

DM Whimsical, even.

Julian Armed with this faith, he makes his way to reunite with Shael. He quickly relays the news and the adventurers prepare to meet this unexpected turn of events.

DM Meanwhile, a half bell after the heralds’ trumpets announced the baron’s address, the horns sound again, this time it seems, announcing the arrival of criers to repeat the baron’s address throughout the town. However, these are no ordinary criers, Shael notes. While the man carrying the trumpet, now unfolding a scroll to read, seems normal enough, the creatures who flank him are not Brindinford citizens. They resemble goblins, though they stand six feet tall and have violet skin. Their eyes glow with unearthly excitement as the crier reads the baron’s words. He repeats the baron’s message verbatim, although he is quite uncomfortable, stumbles over several words and is sweating noticeably. When he is finished, his escorts return him to the keep.

Julian Soon the party heads out for Serra’s temple. Julian advises other friends – Devis, Lidda, and co. – to stay put at the Shield until things become clearer. Perhaps the inn can serve as a temporary safe retreat.

DM On the streets, the pair finds numerous able bodied citizens heading towards the barracks to report for their militia duty. When they reach Serra’s shrine, they find it abandoned…not attacked. Alein and Tolea, wherever they are, got away from here without a fight.

Shael “Let’s check out Tal’s?”

Julian “Yes.” They head that way.

DM As they turn towards the temple of Tal, an ominous sight appears in the sky. A column of black and golden flame rises from where the temple would be.

DM On their approach, the urchin who ran Julian’s message comes running up to him. “Sir!”

Julian “What happened? Did the message get through?”

Urchin He nods. “I was just in time, Sir. High Priest Forgrim and Sun’s Champion Marith were able to escape before the…things got there.”

Shael “What things?”

Urchin “There were things with snakes for beards, and things with spikes, and purple goblins, and fire breathing dogs…and all of them had golden armor and weapons.”

Shael Shael looks at Julian to see if he recognizes the descriptions.

Julian “Devil warriors and hounds of Hell.” Julian shakes his head grimly. “But that they escaped – that is the best news you could have brought me. I owe it to your speed. Here is what I promised, and more besides.”

Julian Ten golden crowns pass from paladin to runner.

Urchin “Thank you!” He eagerly takes the gold. “If you need anything more, Sir, I’m your honest man!”

Julian He nods to the boy. “I will remember it. What is your name?”

Urchin “Tad.”

Julian “I’ll remember it. Thank you.” He nods to Shael. “Let’s go.”

Shael He glances at Julian and mentions, “One at a time, we could take ‘em… but, we can’t fight a whole legion.” with a concerned murmer.

Julian “No, we can’t. Let’s scout it out, though, see what we can see. Whether they all are staying there…”

Shael Shael tilts his head curious but nods and follows his peer.

Julian Julian moves to scope out the temple from outside and see what can be seen.

DM The temple of Tal’s dome has collapsed, and the column of black and golden flames reaches up to the overcast sky from within the former sanctuary. Two bearded devils stand outside the doors, watching those who pass by carefully.

Shael Shael glances at Julian, “What do you think?” he murmers while they walk by and he tries to look inconspicious. “Should I try to give it a peek?”

Julian Julian frowns. “Well. Let’s take a moment to figure out strategy.”

DM The pair takes the next day in moments to figure out just that. In the wake of the baron’s proclamation, Brindinford is a changed place. The citizens are mostly paralyzed with fear. It becomes painfully obvious that the last threat was not idle, any citizen who disobeys the new laws meets a messy end at the hands of the baron’s new enforcers. Milita members now guard the gates from the inside. The fire from the temple glows in the overcast sky, visible everywhere in town. The proclamation has taken everyone by surprise. The Baron was never particularly popular, but he was thought to be fair and stern, never cruel and heartless. Now, however, two heads of noble sons decorate the main gate atop the wall. They had claimed their parentage exempted them from the fyrd. They were given their…exemption.

The guardhouse has the purple goblins backing up the guard, who go about their duties without question. The temple sees a number of human individuals, priests, come and go. The devils search every single one of them before allowing them entry or exit.

Julian Julian works his contacts in town. He tries to catch the guard whose life he saved off duty to find out what is going on inside the palace walls, and asks Lieutenant Shella via messenger whether she’ll meet him at the Shield when she can.

DM The streets are patrolled by militia and guards, the former who appear terrified as they march through the city. The guards search neighborhoods, seeking word of the high priest or Sun’s Champion. A twenty thousand gold piece reward is posted for information leading to either’s capture. The river has become the home of some horrific infernal creature, it has snatched several unwary citizens, including militia members, from the banks without warning. Tales of invisible attackers abound throughout the lower class areas of town. Julian’s contact in the guard reports that the guard has been reassigned to patrol the outer keep only. The traditional bodyguards, of both the Baron and his family have been reassigned in this manner as well. Lieutenant Shella invites Julian to meet her at the guardhouse, through the same messenger. Word of a contract out on Shael, Kryss and Julian’s head is found. Two thousand gold pieces, dead or alive…preferably dead. The Stony Gaze remains open, Gell refusing to bow to the economic pressure of fewer customers. The pair are welcomed there by the halfling and Ahal, who are curious to hear what is going on out there.

Shael Shael spends some time trying to figure out what happened to Eriana, as well as tracking down their other allies.

DM Lady Eriana remains at the Keep. None of their religious allies have been found yet, but their fellow adventurers maintain a low profile as they help gather information for the heroes. Ibn al Jafar frequents the Gaze nightly, as does Thos Hucrele.

Julian After a discussion with Shael Julian decides that Shella’s offer is worth trying, but he scopes out the guardhouse from outside first, looking for signs of devilish presence.

DM On the streets as they make their way to the guardhouse, they come across the bone devil and its brute squad, four of the tougher, meaner militia members. They stalk down the road in their golden armor, looking for trouble. Not finding it here, the squad passes on without more than a glare.

Julian Julian steps to the side and lets them pass by. Lightbringer is not to be seen, more to avoid antagonizing the guards than out of fear of the devil patrols.

Shael An entirely pedestrian citizen, definitely not Shael – certainly not, passes by unmolested.

DM Outside the guardhouse, the two massive purple goblins stand, patting down those civilians who are reporting for duty. They appear to allow those who pass the inspection to go inside.

Julian Julian allows himself to be patted down as well.

Shael The pedestrian happened to be going in the same direction; but he loiters outside.

DM The goblins laugh loudly about the short little man…they reek of sulfur and brimstone. They let him pass, however. He finds Shella inside. She smiles brightly when he enters. She seems…uncharacteristically happy.

Julian Julian takes it all with a pleasant grin, secretly sizing them up. Are they wearing metal armor?

DM (The goblins wear no armor whatsoever)

Julian “Got time for a word in private?” Julian keeps his pleasant smile in place.

Shella She dismisses the guard with a wave.

Julian “What do you make of all this?”

Shella “Captain Forren returned!”

Julian “Well, I’ll be… is he here? Where was he?”

Shella “He’d gone deep undercover to investigate some halfling criminal encampment across the river. He’s up at the palace with the baron, giving his full report!” She can barely contain her happiness.

Shella “Oh, and can you believe there is a druidic circle operating out there too? In plain view of the church and everything,” she shakes her head disapprovingly.

Julian “Well, I’m glad to hear one thing has gone well lately. The Captain that is. It gets pretty wild pretty quick outside the walls. Never know what you’re going to turn up.” Julian agrees. “What do you think about the Baron’s new proclamation, though? These enforcers of his?”

Shella She looks curiously. “You mean the bugbears?”

Julian “Yeah, and that bony devilish looking thing…”

Shella She gives him a doubtful look. “Did you actually see it, Julian? A lot of people are saying that, but I don’t think it’s real.”

Julian “Well, it might not be real, but if it isn’t, then whatever’s behind it is some sort of magician fooling people’s eyes. I did see it. I suppose that’s possible, with all the sorcery underfoot…” he muses.

Shella Shella sighs. “Magic. I barely understand it, and it’s causing so much trouble.”

Julian “Have you been out on patrol since the proclamation, or tied down here?”

Shella “I’ve had to stop my patrols, me and Brox both. We’ve been on overtime, trying to get all of the new recruits processed.”

Julian “Right. Makes sense.”

Shella “The bugbears have been leading a few of them though. I’m concerned though…I thought they were…you know, monsters? The guards they’ve gone with have had nothing but good things to say about them though. Apparently even monsters can have manners. Who knew?”

Julian “They are, from everything I’ve heard.” Julian shrugs. “Anyway. Might be good to walk a patrol, if ever you get a moment. Get a sense of the city’s mood, you know? People are frightened, Shella.”

Shella She frowns. “They shouldn’t be. The city is going to be safe. The Baron’s not a bad guy. And now the Captain’s back. He’ll set everything right again. I tried to hold it down as best I could for him, but now he’s here and he’ll fix those mistakes I made.”

Julian Julian shrugs uneasily. “I think they might have reason to be, but I won’t tell you what to think. You know this place better than I do, I know. I’m glad that he turned up, anyway. Did you get to see him before he went up to the palace?”

Shella She nods. “He came in here, explained things and headed out.”

Julian “All right. Give him my greetings, please, next time you see him.” Julian grins. “Tell him he’s a hard man to find.” The grin fades. “Oh… one more thing.”

Shella She looks curiously at his change of tone.

Julian “Did you hear the part of the decree that was against the temple of Tal?”

Shella “I can’t believe they were traitors,” she says, shaking her head sadly. “I hope once they find them they’ll discover it was all just a misunderstanding. Although it doesn’t look good that they ran, does it?”

Julian “That’s not what the baron said, though, is it? He spoke against the whole church. From Tal himself on down. ‘The temple of Tal, whose god has not seen fit to defend our city, is closed, and its priests are declared outlaws.’ Nothing about treason.”

Shella “I wasn’t there at the speech, I’ve just got the arrest order to go off of. But…if there wasn’t something to suspect them of treason, what would be the point of arresting them for it? They’d just be found innocent and let go.”

Julian “Good question. Look, all I’m saying is, something seems rotten to me. What the Baron said, it wasn’t as if he was talking about a few individuals, traitors. It was as if he was turning against God. I don’t know what would make him want to do that. Maybe I’m wrong.”

Shella “Yeah, it couldn’t be that. His sister is very involved with the church, even more than he is.”

Julian “I’ll be honest, Shella, my biggest worry here is that we’ve got another case of the three ensorcelled guardsmen. Only on a bigger scale. Just… get out on the streets and have a look around, all right? When you can.”

Shella “I will, I promise. Brox and I will power through this paperwork and I’ll get out there.”

Julian “Thanks. I’m going to move on. Still some assassins after me, I hear, and what with walking around unarmed now, it’s best not to hang around a public place too long unless I want to meet them on the way out. Stay safe.”

Shella “You too.” Her wish is sincere.

Julian Julian heads out, reuniting with Shael.

Shael Falling into step, Shael murmers, “What news?”

Julian “She’s just been getting third-hand reports. Chained to the desk. Oh, and the Captain turned up, today of all days. Word has it he’s gone to the palace.” Don’t know what to make of that, but I don’t think it’ll be good."

Shael Shael blinks. “Where was he?”

Julian Julian fills Shael in.

Shael “A druids circle…” Shael murmers to himself, “…how far from the city, did she say?”

Julian “Not far.”

Shael “We might want to check that out.” he suggests, “If they could be convinced to be on our side, they could prove valuable in the defense of the city.”

Julian “I’ll be honest, I’m expecting the Captain to come back from the palace charmed. Yeah? You think taming a cave bear would impress them?”

Shael “I’m concerned he doesn’t need to be charmed.” Shael shrugs, “I’ve met a couple, might help…”

Julian “You think so?” Julian nods at the advice about druids. “Something for tonight then. There’s one problem at least that seems simple. This river creature that’s been snatching people. Just needs killing, I guess.”

Shael Shael nods, “There is something I wonder that they may be able to answer.” he cocks his head curiously, “Hm, yes… no way to ambush it and it makes a large and sturdy target.” he agrees.

Julian Julian heads that way, rounding up Kryss to watch their backs.

DM The pair of heroes tracks first rumors and then signs of the river monster back to its lair, just outside the city, near the halfling’s encampment. It is seventy feet long from snout to tail, with a long neck and eyes that burn with hellfire. It bursts up from the river, roaring with rage as they come upon it.

Julian “That… is a lot bigger than I thought…”

Shael “Uhm. I didn’t know those existed…” he says, “…it’s fiendish, don’t bother with fire… and, otherwise… well, just hurt it a lot. It shouldn’t have anything more surprising than being a gods foresaken hell behemoth.”

Julian “Right… try to draw it onto shore. Then you from the right and me from the left.” The quick strategy conference with Kryss is followed by a pair of javelins, intended as much to anger the beast as wound it.

DM The creature roars as the javelins sink in.

Julian Kryss follows up with a pair of thrown axes, sticking close to Shael.

DM The creature lunges out of the river, barreling for Julian. Halfling river platforms are shattered in its watery exit.

Shael Shael moves towards the flank while subtly casting a spell of blindness on the creature.

DM Its infernal resistance seems to shrug off the magic.

Shael Shael suspected as much and the cascade contingencies trigger.

DM However, Shael sees paths not typically trodden, and in exchange for that, the creature sees only darkness. It thrashes about wildly.

Julian Julian takes advantage of the beast’s temporary disorientation and moves around it’s flank, slicing at the lashing coils with Lightbringer.

Kryss Kryss meanwhile heads straight up the middle.

DM Its roars shift in pitch. What was once rage is now pain. It lashes out blindly, as it slinks back towards the safety of the river. The creature is stripped of its hearing as well as its sight now, and dives into the water streaming ribbons of blood in its wake. It dives beneath the surface, the red trails following it down.

Shael Shael withdraws and tosses a potion of swimming to Kryss while running towards the water. Without preamble, he dives in – magic driving his advance towards the monster.

Julian Julian meanwhile trusts in his swimming expertise learned during his time in the cavalry.

Kryss Kryss shrugs and drinks the mystery liquid that Shael handed to him, then jumps in expecting to swim for it like Julian. He finds it rather easier, much to his surprise.

DM The creature is bleeding chunks of infernal flesh at this point, only alive through sheer hate.

Kryss Kryss teaches it to let go of its hate in the most brutal manner he can conceive.

DM It vanishes as it dies, turning into a black and golden smoke that clouds the water and fades away.

Kryss Kryss surfaces soon after, a little put out that he is left with nothing to show for his victory.

DM As the creature dies, the halflings in the encampment come out to cheer their saviors.

Julian Julian turns to greet their diminutive audience. Well, somewhat diminutive.

Shael Shael surfaces from the water and suggests to Kryss, “Go check if it had a lair, see if there’s anything useful.” he swims back to shore with Julian to face their admirers.

Julian Not ALL that much shorter than he is, really.

DM The pair are presented to Dentheira, the halfling’s matron. She eyes them speculatively.

Shael Shael eyes her speculatively.

Julian Julian coughs politely. “Sorry about those platforms.”

Dentheira “Well, they needed replacings anyoways,” she responds, waving off the apology. “I ain’t zaggeratin when I say you saved us. Damn thing came out of that portal they’ve got open in town.”

Julian “Portal, you say?”

Shael Shael nods, his suspicions confirmed.

Julian “We’re just starting to get our arms around this… figured we’d start with the biggest thing around.”

Dentheira “Modeir, get these folks some fish to eat while we talk.” One of the halflings, a broad shouldered male with a sour looking face, moves to comply. “Yep, that damn flame is burning a hole straight to Hell, and it’s letting all sorts of things loose. Worries me about my kin…too long of this and the Rag’ll be round.”

Shael “Rag?” Shael wonders.

Julian “Heaven forbid.” Julian mutters.

Dentheira “They say he was once a man…sold his soul for mere gold, only to find that it had lost any luster to him without his soul. He went to the devil, demanded it be returned to him, and he was stripped of his wealth as well. Now he shuffles the world, seeking the devil for a reckoning. Cuz when I mean he was stripped of his wealth? I mean, literally, everything he had. His money, his clothing…his skin…” she whispers. “Who knows how he returned, but a devil portal being open…sure to draw him.”

Shael Shael blinks, surprised. “You think he’ll come to the portal…” he purses his lips, “…to battle the devils?”

Dentheira “I see whatcher thinking boy, n it ain’t purty. Man ain’t to be the winner of such a conflict, of that you can be certain.”

Julian “Then this portal has to be our target. That means the temple.”

Shael With a nod, Shael moves on, “We heard the Captain of the town militia came through here…?”

Dentheira Dentheira blinks. “Say what now?”

DM Modeir reappears with some strong smelling trout strips, crusted in horseradish.

Shael Shael accepts his meal gratefully, expressing his thanks to Modeir and the others.

Modeir Modeir smacks his lips impatiently as he receives the thanks.

Julian Julian’s mind is still on strategy. “So you understand, then, we’re fighting what’s happened in town. Can you help?”

Shael Shael elaborates, describing the Captain and what his reported mission was. “Said deep cover; not sure how he’d lark about here, though.” he digs into the fish.

DM The fish is delicious, despite being hastily prepared by someone who clearly considers humans less important than the booger he is attempting to dig out of his nose at the moment…hopefully he washed his hands.

Dentheira “Help? Spose that depends on what you’re talking about. Information, place to hide, smuggling weapons in…maybe. Charging the walls of a city that don’t want us? Nope.”

Julian "Unless you’ve got anyone who’s eager to slay devils, information and a place to hide is more what we had in mind.

Shael Shael nods, “There are a few who will need to be expatriated… and weapons…” he frowns, “…I am uncertain whether we want civilians involved, only if it is necessary… but, I’d like to know about your capabilities in that field.”

Dentheira “My kin’s moved folk n fare down this river since before there was a Brinderford. Emphasis on the ‘and fare’ though. You can say a lot of nice things about charity, but I’d rather be able to buy the nice things, if it’s all the same.”

Julian “And fare…” Julian probably isn’t thinking along the same lines she is though. “Hey, do you think you could get an animal inside? A big one?”

Shael Shael murmers, “Compensation will be commensurate with services rendered – acknowledging as well the extreme danger you may be facing in aiding us.”

Dentheira “That’s what I like, someone who respects his elders…because of the money, boy. I like hearing I’m going to get it. Just a little less than I like actually getting it.”

Shael “We’ll almost certainly need two fugitives to be abetted… what’s the normal rate on fare out of the city? For these two, the danger means it’ll be tenfold that price payable now for services rendered when they are available to assist.”

Dentheira “A hundred gold?” the woman seems a little surprised, before recovering. “One hundred each…”

Shael “Ten gold just to coast a skimmer down-river? Per passenger?” Shael says, not above haggling on the original rate despite his generosity with the danger pay. “5 gold each, and the danger pay to cap it.”

Dentheira “Ten for a fugitive to be smuggled. A normal ride is silver, not gold. But we can call it five fold for danger if it’s too rich.”

Shael “Ten for a fugative…” he murmers, with a sigh he nods. “It’ll be the clergy of Tal – that change anything? They’re declared outlaws in the city.”

Dentheira Her lips twist, but she doesn’t change the price. “A deal’s a deal on the river,” she mutters.

Shael Shael nods and starts counting coins, he lets Julian take over for the rest of the discussions while he does so.

Julian “I guess you’ve been keeping track of what’s been happening in the city?”

Dentheira “We hear things. And yes, in case you mistook my elusive answer as a lack of information, we are indeed keeping track.”

Julian “The devils are strong right now. We’re looking to whittle them down before we can try the temple. Hearing things when their forces are on the move could be pretty helpful with that.”

Dentheira “Here’s some free advice. Some of them are part of the force, some of them are illegal refugees from their blasted wasteland of a home. Don’t mix up the two.” She points at the river as she mentions the latter.

Julian “Guessing these ghost killers we’ve heard about are more of the second kind?”

Dentheira “The real force here is on a specific contract, which is to enforce law and order. You step out of line, they’re going to do for you, but they won’t go around on a random snuff show. But beasties like our river love, or the invisible tigers that stalk the sinners who escape from Hell’s clutches? Those aren’t bargained with, they’re escaping the zoo.”

Shael Shael wonders, “We should maybe target those first, assuage the wound, or instead stem the tide entirely?”

Dentheira “Dunno, just don’t want you thinking poking one is poking the other.”

DM The next day, the heroes put their nose to the ground, trying to find out everything they can about the situation. Southspur is the site of most of the fiendish creature attacks. There are at least three fiendish bipedal reptiles taller than a man and two invisible tigers. The purplish bugbear creatures patrol three times a day, the rest of the time is split guarding the guard barracks or at the temple of Tal. There are at least two human priests who have been seen in the temple, but do not leave. A pack of hellhounds roams outside the city, and a few of the hounds have been seen in town, near the temple. The devils in the temple include the bone devil that patrols once an hour, the bearded devils that guard the temple day and night, and a barbed devil that stays within the temple. Thos Hucrele offers to have some of his agents scout the temple if the heroes are interested. The missing clerics are not located, wherever their safehouse is, it seems to be keeping them safe, because the reward for their capture has increased to six digits. Some rumors within the city are that a ‘Band of the Rag’ are stealing rags and burning them in some sort of odd ritual.

DM Hopefully our heroes can make sense of this, Loyal Readers! Will they liberate this city from Hell, or wash it away in the high water? Find out next week!

The Speaker in Dreams 11
Brindinford, Goodmonth Week 2.2-2.3 BCY 14500

Session 28

DM So we last left our heroes at the festival held in their honor! What glories await them here and beyond now that they have saved Brindinford? Read on!

DM Lieutenant Shella, Chalumma, Thos Hucrele and several other prominent merchants are here at the Stony Gaze Tavern. Sven drains tankards at the bar, while Devis, Ember and Lidda sit in a booth of their own, observing the festivities. Ibn Ad Jafer is there, telling lies with several other old men. Tolea and Alein are both in full parade dress, looking every bit the holy warriors. Even High Priest Forgrim and Sun’s Champion Marith are present, in a more subdued but no less sincere manner. Folk from Silver Hill snobs to Southspur scruffy rogues move in and out, as Lady Eriana has proclaimed it open to all. The tap flows freely, and Gell has hired on several of his kinfolk to ensure that fine halfling cooking proceeds from the kitchen in a veritable train of delicious dishes to supplement the boar roasting on a spit.

DM Naniky furiously plays his lute, blood flying from his fingertips as he sings an original song composed in their honor about the defeat of the vile witches of the Reality Wrinkle. It takes…a few liberties.

“So we’ll fight against the wind for the glory of the kings, To defeat Tal’s evil enemies,

And we’ll ride with our lord for the power and the throne, In the name of holy Taladin force!”

Ahal Ahal lingers by the party, looking as lovely as ever. She avoids any verbal slights to Lieutenant Shella as she hangs on their every word and rushes to fill their every request.

Eriana Lady Eriana, for her part assures the party that her brother did not mean any harm in not showing himself. He’s a bit stiff around commoners, a solid ruler but not exactly a people person. She does present all three of them with a silver brooch set with a rich purple amethyst, shaped like an eagle.

DM A dozen toasts are offered in your honor throughout the night, and a dozen more to Tal, and a half dozen or so to a scattering of lesser celebrated events, like the slain guards, or the rescued paladins, or the healed wererats. Merchants mob Kryss, eager to serve as the middle man of his reported ‘Dragonforged Steel’, chief among them Thos Hucrele. Shael is beset by academics and sages, curious and concerned about the bookstore. And Julian is given an abundance of pious praise for his brave and saintly purge of those infernal elements that had cropped up within the town.

Kryss With Shaels permission Kryss takes a “night off.” He spends the evening eating and drinking, as well as trading stories. While his stories pertain mostly to fighting little bushes and orcs, he is mostly listening. His superior dragon ears constantly scan the crowd listening for any talk of dragons.

DM Kryss does hear mention of a vicious dragon hunting in the north.

Shael “I will maintain and protect the lore within.” Shael assures the the academics and sages.

DM Its access is their biggest question. Specifically, theirs. To it.

Kryss Kryss is happen to discuss business and tells any who would listen about the fine quality of Fapas’ Dragonfire Forge and laments that he lost all his samples during his adventures. “Nearly 15 silvers, straight down the septic drains.” he says, as he makes his way towards the talk of dragons. “Now dragonfire! That will heat a blade, so Ive heard tell.”

Thos “How does Fapas forge with dragon flame?”

Julian Julian works hard to appear at ease, and actor as he is few could tell otherwise, but the night’s festivities cannot quite banish a few thoughts from his mind. Mana. Knives. The missing Captain that they never found. Knives.

Kryss "You would have to ask Fapas.’ Kryss replies

DM Julian can tell that the missing captain weighs on Shella as well, although she does not bring him up.

Kryss “That being said, he has asked me to be on the lookout for dragons. Maybe he catches them to power his forge? There did seem to be a sizeable basement.”

Thos Thos Hucrele nods approvingly as Kryss maintains trade secrets. “Dry Lake, north of here, has seen a dragon’s predations within a few moons or so. I’m quite interested in securing a trade deal with you and Fapas’s work.”

Shael Shael allows that is possible access may be granted to those who are worthy, but finds opportunities to mention the battles they fought to secure the Wrinkle and elaborate again on how he intends to protect it from misuse.

Kryss “There is a Hucrele establishment there already, perhaps a cousin of yours there could help arrange something? You could send a letter in care of Canstable Whitewood and I will put my sign on it as greeting.”

Thos Thos brightens at this. “Naturally, you’ll need some fair compensation for facilitation of this pact.”

Kryss “A payment for my time would suffice, say…” Kryss looks at Shael with the look of a true businessman, “30 silvers?” He steeples his fingers as though he has his prey on the hook.

DM Thos’s face freezes for a moment, before nodding. “Of course.”

Shael Using his insight to evaluate the petioners, Shael makes note of those who seem to meet his standards of worthiness so that he can speak more with them later.

Julian Julian looks up from telling the story of battling Forsaken in Durgeddin’s Tomb to a small knot of children. “Do you think conditions on the road will improve?” he inquires of the businessman, thinking back on their encounter with bandits.

Kryss “Any other financial arrangements will need to be made with Fapas of course. And you only hold exclusivity in the limits of this city and the surrounding areas within 10 miles.” Kryss continues.

Thos Thos shrugs, unwilling to commit to Julian’s question. “It is…hard to say. Criminals can come in all sorts of venues, after all. It is my hope that trade will flourish however.”

Kryss “Now that being said, I assume you have contacts in the neighboring cities. If you can create a Fapas franchise in any other city, with approval from Fapas, I expect another 30 silvers.”

Thos Hucrele’s face does not betray him again, but he agrees easily to Kryss’s terms.

Shael Shael slips in before the deal is finalized and clears his throat, “Ahem.” he eyes the local Hucrele curiously, tilting his head to the side.

Kryss “Anything else?” Kryss asks his boss. “Is he interested in purchasing plans for top of the line war wagons?”

Julian “If things do continue dangerous,” Julian smiles easily, “I gave it some thought recently. Caravans and protection, organization and fit-out and such.”

Shael “Has anyone minded the L’rd Hucrele of Kerowyn’s lot?” he wonders.

Thos “Hmm. War wagons, defending the caravans, hmm?” Hucrele appears to consider the idea, nodding thoughtfully.

Shael “I do not wish to interupt the bargaining, but I think you should know this is the man who rescued Sharwyn from the Sunless depths… you know the worth of such things.” He eyes significantly. “Not all have the eye of a Hucrele.” he smiles respectfully, if dimly, and withdraws.

Thos “You are the one who returned that mindless doll to my cousin in the east? It is as your friend says, of value.”

Kryss Kryss leans back in his chair and flips through his book of dragons, looking for entries of dragons in the Dry Lake area as he listens to the others talk.

Julian The idea of cooperation planted, Julian goes back to his tale. They can work out the details some other time.

Shael Seeming unaware of the conseqences, Shael heads for a less densely crowded part of the bar and leans across to ask quietly for a water. He doesn’t notice Lady Eriana is the reason that the common folk hang back slightly from this location.

Kryss “Do you know of any Hucrele vendors in the Dry lake area? We could possibly deliver a letter for you if so,” he asks, paging throubgh the book nonchalantly.

Thos “Honestly, my kinfolk are spread across this entire region. I’m sure that one or another lives in Dry Lake, but it is so…provincial.”

Kryss “Not a tight knit family then?”

Eriana Eriana makes her way over to Shael at the bar. “I hope you don’t feel awkward around me.”

Kryss “I assumed you all had a partnership and provided services to each other.”

Thos Thos shakes his head. “We’re large, and while we work together, I’m not really the guy to ask about the family tree. Dry Lake isn’t real business, being so small, so…” he spreads his hands.

Kryss “So who is the person to see about a larger franchising operation?”

Shael Shael blinks laconically while his gaze readjusts. Identifying Eriana he stands upright, looking away to clear his throat, “Ahm, oh. Lady Eriana.” he smiles, his gaze blank as he searches inwardly for inspiration. “No, not awkward… off-guard, maybe? I guess it’s complicated.” he finishes lamely.

Kryss “If I can get each of you sister stores stocking our goods then I could earn over a hundred gold inside 5 years!”

DM Kryss catches the barest flash of a metal symbol in Hucrele’s palm, expertly hidden. Julian spots it as well, and notes that it looks quite a bit like a holy symbol.

Eriana “It’s not complicated at all. You don’t care much for attention, you care for people. I know how that feels.”

Julian Julian can’t help but snicker at Kryss’s outburst. As for the holy symbol, if the paladin did indeed notice, he gives no sign of it. If a holy symbol is being hidden, it’s probably for a reason.

Kryss “No need to pay me now,” Kryss motions to Hucrele’s hand. “Just get payment to my employer,” he gestures to Shael.

Thos The Hucrele glances at his now empty hand with a questioning look upon his face, but a new respect in his eyes.

Kryss “I was also thinking that there might be a finder’s fee for you if you were to introduce me to the… um… Master of your House?” Kryss suggests as he places 5 copper on the table. He winks.

Shael He frowns pensively. When his water is delivered he takes it gratefully and uses it as an excuse to collect his thoughts more. Setting it down he turns to look at her directly, “Have you read the Principle Directions of Thought by Celestin the Tthul? She talks about the complex motion of an idea and how unrelated it is to its physical mooring. I’m used to attention, Lady… I am just not used to having the attention I pay to the world directed back at me.”

Thos “Master Kryss, I’m going to be frank with you. Both my services and your own are worth a great deal more coin, and of a yellower color. Let me help you help yourself.”

Thos “But as far as Hucrele’s go in this town, there’s me and my brother, and we’re the top of this food chain.”

Eriana Lady Eriana shakes her head. “I’ve read Celestin’s Deeper Thinking and his Art of the Fourth Dimension, but Principle has eluded my grasp, I’m afraid.”

Kryss “You limit yourself to the confines of a town? There is only so much wealth here. Im giving you an opportunity to make gold all over the provinces. Imagine if 1 silver of every transaction conducted all over the land went into your pocket. You would have uncountable wealth. Hasnt anyone ever thought to expand their influence?”

Thos Thos takes the time to explain the barony of Brindinford and its political and economic ramifications to Kryss, as well as have a slight discussion about the cost and benefit of extending one’s power across a larger area.

Eriana Eriana continues, “Still, I would think that one such as you, who truly seeks the exceptional, would have found someone by now that returns the attention, moored or not?”

Julian “What it would need, more than anything else, is security.” Julian opines, drifting back into the conversation. “Since the war, the roads have been bad, and dangerous, travel and trade expensive and slow.”

Kryss Kryss pays close attention to the lesson, wishing he had something to write on. He asks further questions, interjecting with ideas, and ultimately attempts to form a Mentor/ Student relationship with Thos while Kryss remains in town.

Thos Thos nods. “Yes. It can be far more profitable to simply raid shipments than to pay for them, but raids have the effect of stifling the future. A delicate balance.”

Shael He chuckles, “If you’re familiar with the author, it’s just more epistemic pedantry. I only meant to say that it was your attention that caught me off-guard.”

Kryss “Perhaps by working together for a time you might get a better chance to get in on the ground floor of Julians Caravan security advice as well.”

Thos “Naturally security is something that former bandits would be fairly well suited for,” Thos muses. “If you were to be able to reach out to them, that is.”

Julian “They say it used to be different in the old days. ‘O how lovely the beach looks when it’s filled with merchandise and it bustles with businessmen! Bundles of different clothing are pulled from the ships, countless people delight at the sailors’ cheerful singing, and the rich man dances in the sand!’”

Kryss “I mean I dont know if his ideas are for sale, but I would imagine that in exchange for a wagon built to his specifications he would be happy to field test it, provide feedback, and we could ask our good friend Azario to endorse the product.” Kryss brainstorms.

DM Thos is happy to bounce ideas off of Kryss and Julian regarding interregion caravan and security.

Shael “Sir Berrick did not prepare me to deal with true nobility.” he tells Eriana.

Kryss “An arrangements with the bandits to protect only our caravans would be of benefit. We could look into someting like that for you.” Kryss suggests.

DM Shael finds Eriana quite well rounded in her education, with the annoying exception of magic, and quite insightful as well. She seems to have a knack for taking compliments and criticism alike with the right amount of grace, and making everyone feel her sincere concern for their concerns.

Julian “Bah. Don’t even joke about that.”

DM Thos nods. “It would add an unnecessary layer of confusion…I was thinking we offer them honest work rather than pay them protection money.”

DM “I’m sure many of them are just hit by hard times.”

Kryss “I suppose there is that. Are there any rumors about a bandit king or some such?”

DM Thos shrugs. “Are there? You folk came through the area, I’m a homebody.”

Shael After quite longer than he intended, Shael manages to tear himself away from her company. He eyes the small crowd that’s surrounded them significantly and takes his half of the attention; glad-handing and interacting with as many as he can manage.

Kryss “Certainly there must be someone who talks to everybody. Who is that?”

DM Thos’s eyes run over Ahal’s backside, and he shrugs. “Maids hear a lot of rumors, but we’re a city, a place of law and order. Bandits are typically far off stories for us unless we know someone hit by them.”

Kryss “It seems we shall go bandit hunting in the morning, Julian. Im off to sleep, breakfast will come early and I dont want to miss it.” He drains Julians beer in a single pull and heads off to his room at the tavern.

DM His room is actually at an inn slightly across town.

Julian Julian takes it in stride, signaling Ahal for another.

DM She quickly puts it in his hand.

Kryss He manages to find his way, although the ale might have taken a harder toll on his senses than it should have. He collapses into a large, well paid for bed, and passes out into the happy sleep of someone who has been eating and drinking all day.:

Shael “…a whole pig? That must have been quite the contest…” “…of course I’ll stop by for a slice, how do I…” “…well, he’s a fine man and a good leader. I’m glad…” “…no, I haven’t ever been. You say it’s just south…” Shael moves adroitly through the tavern striking up small conversations with one group then politely disengaging to joing another for a round.

DM His companions see Kryss swaying slightly as he goes to leave the Gaze.

Julian Julian disengages from Thos and turns back to Shalla, talking quietly under the tavern din for a while before getting up to follow Kryss. He makes sure to make the rounds with Shael before he goes, and to stop and pay his respects to Lady Eriana.

DM The trio makes their way together down the street, heading for the Shield and Shingle. A clear loud and deep voice calls from an alley off the main road. “Hey! Heroes!” Fifteen feet inside is a hulking, ten foot tall feminine ogre with emerald green skin, deep blue hair and small ivory horns. A blast of icy air flows out from her hands, and when the gale ends, she turns and flees, ducking around behind a building.

Julian “What the…. who in Tal’s name is she?” Julian reaches for Lightbringer.

Shael “That…” Shael says at length, “…is clearly a trap.” He looks at Julian, around Kryss, “That’s a trap right?” he says a little too quickly, slurring around the words.

Julian “You think so?” Julian pauses. “Then I’ll go first.”

Shael Shouting out loud he hollars down the alley with his hands by his mouth to help the sound carry, “HEY! ARE YOU TRAPPING US?!”

Kryss Kryss leans against the blast, pulling his shield down for protection just as the cold wind disappates. He looks wide eyed at Shael as the alcohol boils away in his blood.

Julian “…or you could try that. I’ll be back.” Julian mutters, ducking into the shadows and vanishing.

DM There is no response to Shael’s yell, the streets are largely deserted, most people being at the Gaze and its party.

Kryss An icicle drops off Kryss’ armor and shatters on the ground as Kryss waits for Shael to tell him what to do.

Shael “Trap, trap, trap. Lap. Gap. Nap….” he frowns and purses his lips, “…hm. Wait here, gonna find out if it’s a trap.” he stumbles towards the trap.

DM Julian wanders into the alley, invisible.

Kryss Kryss assumes a guard position at the alley entrance.

Shael Shael blinks as his entrance dissapears, “Where’d that wall, oh, hey.” he looks up at Kryss and whispers conspiratorilly, “I gotta see if it’s a trap.”

Kryss “Ill cover you from here.” Kryss retorts.

DM He does not find the ogre creature, but he does come upon a man lying in wait, with a shuffling, vile mud like creature beside him.

Julian A trap after all! Julian turns to warn his companions…which way was it again?

DM Julian seems to circle around as he tries to find them…and what is that? Another man, lying in wait. This one is clad in black and Julian can almost sense the lethal intent within his heart.

Shael Shael circles around too — around Kryss.

Julian If he can’t find his way out, at least he can try to identify their would-be murderers. Julian gets close, looking for any sign or token he could recognize.

Julian Julian tears his eyes away and searches for the exit.

DM Avoiding the foes he saw, he slips back to them. He has been gone a quarter bell when he finally finds them near the entrance.

Julian Shael hears a voice by his ear as he strives to bypass the wall. “Definitely a trap.”

Kryss Kryss looks through the darkness for a bit before deciding to take a more tactical position. He turns towards a shadow and with the help of his magic slippers darts up a nearby wall to get a birds eye view.

Shael “Ah, ghost!” Shael jumps.

Julian “Don’t worry, I’m a friendly ghost!”

Shael “Psh, okay. What kinda trap?”

DM An arrow ricochets off Kryss’s shield. The ogre shimmers into view.

Julian “Ahem. Here to warn you away from the dire fate that led me to my death! Assassins lying in wait. Also, some kind of vile mud creatures. Also, it’s a wretched maze in there. Took me forever to find my way out.”

Shael Shael gasps, “Gasp! A maze? How many assassins?”

Julian “Also, just between you and the realm of the dead, Julian is pretty great. We’re all big fans over here.”

Kryss “Up here!” Kryss draws a javelin and throws it.

Julian “At least four, probably more… wait, what was that?”

Shael “So, like… right around that corner there’s, like… thirty assassins?!” He asks Jasper the friendly ghost.

Julian “Kryss is up on the… I mean, your friend is up on the roof and he’s in trouble! Come on!”

Shael Shael’s eyes widen and he looks up. “Kryss, you’re in danger! When is the last time that roof received proper maintenance!?”

Kryss Kryss’ muscles ripple as the javelins leave his hand in a blur.

DM They bounce off the ogre. The ogre disappears.

Kryss “Its gone!” Kryss yells down.

Shael “No, it’s okay, Kryss – the roof is still there.” he points, “Look!”

Kryss “No the…”

Julian In a magnificent but wasted display of athletics, Julian leaps from ground to rooftops in a single bound. Once there, he moves forward, trying to get a good view of the area without the perils of getting lost in the alleyways.

Kryss “She was right there!” Kryss points.

Julian The friendly ghost leaps to investigate.

DM He doesn’t spot any movement from the top of the roofs, any hidden foes may have fled from Shael’s loud calls.

Shael “She’s where?” Shael asks, he wanders into the maze trying to follow Kryss’ directions.

DM An assassin materializes from the shadows to thrust at him with its blade. Shael’s shield deflects the blow.

Kryss “I dont know, shes invisible again.” Kryss says.

Shael “Hey!” Shael scolds. “Keep it down, you’ll scare the trappers away!” He yells.

Julian Julian continues maneuvering for position and a good vantage point.

Kryss Suddenly a 7 foot tall giant charges at the assassin with a deadly sharp and more deadly looking axe. The fact that he is running on the side of the wall doesnt stand out as significant.

DM The axe bites into the assassin, who isn’t able to get out of the way in time. A massive arrow catches Kryss in the shoulder, spinning him around. The ogre materializes on another roof.

Kryss “There!” Kryss shouts, pointing out the ogre to Shael.

DM The assassin darts in for another hit, and then flips away to avoid retaliation. He flees into the shadows. And skids to a halt as he realizes these are not his foes. Well…at least not the friendly mage.

Shael Shael frowns at the man, “Shhhhh!” he commands, “There’s an ogre hunting us!” he warns, motioning towards the roof.

Julian There is a whoosh and cracking of shingles next to the ogre, and then a voice. “Boo.” A man shimmers into view, holding a black iron dagger, stained with crusted blood and razor sharp.

DM The ogre’s eyes widen. The trio spots some movement on the roof as a man with a crossbow moves into position.

Shael Shael frowns at the man and chastizes, “Yer not s’posed to watch while we’re the ones to hide.”

DM He blinks momentarily as Shael’s magic attacks his eyes, but appears to shrug it off.

Shael When he refuses to close his eyes, a mystical copy of Orcshy slices through the air at his head.

DM It nearly takes his head off at the shoulder. The man coughs up a massive amount of blood. He fires his crossbow, badly, and turns and runs away. A second assassin snipes at Julian as he becomes visible. The paladin takes a crossbow bolt to the shoulder. Poisoned, of course. Not that poison means shit to Julian. He was in the cavalry.

Kryss Kryss eyes the remaining assassin, notes the telltale vacant gaze, and looks back at Shael. “Theres only one of him. Im going to help Julian,” he says, before dashing off.

Kryss He charges over a building and comes down onto the ogre on the other side.

DM The axe catches her in the back. She whirls, angrily, as the blood drips down her wound.

Kryss Kryss responds with violence.

DM The axe flashes, and the ogre appears to have little defense against it. She ducks, he sinks it in deep. She turns and flees, moving as fast as she can to get away from Julian, and both of them catch her as she goes.

Julian The razor knife opens her back as she flees.

DM She does go though. Up, up and away. A massive bow clatters down in the alley as she flees.

Kryss “Stop her Julian!” Kryss shouts.

DM “Stay here, I’ll kill them,” the assassin assures Shael as he moves to fire his crossbow at the exposed back of one of the wizard’s companions, up on the roof.

Shael “What, no! Don’t kill them!” Shael beseaches.

Julian Julian only smiles at Kryss.

DM A bolt emerges from his abdomen.

Kryss “Stop playing around! We have to stop that thing!”

DM The poison…feels a bit shittier this time around.

Julian Even this unwelcome development cannot dampen the paladin’s good mood. He raises his voice in prayer. Tonight, evil will burn.

DM Tal’s blazing fire causes the ogre’s chain armor to glow a soft red in the dark night.

Julian Tal’s work done, the paladin takes cover. He finds a spot where he is only readily visible from above.

Shael Shael moves in front of the assassin and growls, “Stop!” his arms spread wide to block the charmed assailant’s route of attack, “…and submit.” his mind tears into the others’.

DM The assassin’s mind is a sterile place of conditioning. He sees himself, Julian and Kryss, although he has been dimmed in this mind’s eye. Shadowed is the man’s employer. Murder is on this man’s mind. The thief stops, aims his crossbow and fires at Kryss’s skull. The shot bounces off the helm. Another rogue emerges from the alley, running at Kryss with a wicked looking blade. It too bounces off the man. Shael finds the third rogue dropping down behind him, but his ring defends him. The rogue with the blade blinks as the attack is foiled. He tries to cough to clear his throat of the sudden tightness in it, but the action is difficult as his face slides apart. The second assassin drops behind Shael and rams his blade through his spine. The original assassin hisses. “Not that one, lackwit!”

Kryss Kryss drops Shatterspike at the rogue’s corpse and snatches up the giant bow on the ground, rips the arrow from his shoulder, and strings it, taking aim at the rapidly disappearing ogre in the distance. Before it has a chance to find its mark he pulls the arrow from Julian and fires that one as well. All this while charging up and down walls and leaping alleys to chase down the ogre. Its very impressive.

Julian Julian meanwhile peeks over the edge of the roof. “Damn it. Kryss, Shael’s down!”

DM The second arrow catches the fleeing ogre in the back.

Julian “I’m getting him out of here. We can bring her down from outside – don’t stay here alone!” He scans the horizon for taller buildings outside the warren of alleyways but not too far away.

DM Most buildings are around the same height, and certainly those in the immediate area are. The belltower rises in the distance. The ogre flies further away, dropping down between some buildings nearly a hundred feet away from the current fray.

Kryss Kryss roars as his prey appears to escape. Children all over town awake to the noise.

Julian “Meet you on the other side!” Julian rolls off the rooftop and reaches for Shael. A muttered curse as he hits the ground, and then… both of them are gone, without a trace.

Kryss Kryss takes Julians lead, and drops off the side of a building. He hits the ground running, a shadow darting ahead of him to lead the way. Kryss skids to a halt and darts back up the building, his massive paw reaching over to Shatterspike.

DM Kryss tears his way through the thieves and assassins, making for the street. The thieves fall before his rage, but the assassins keep up with him. Just as all hope seems lost, and a third, vile looking eyeless assassin shows up as reinforcements, he makes it to a main street, where revelers are still celebrating his ‘victory’ over the evil forces in Brindinford. The assassins melt back into the night, not willing to take their attack public.

Julian Elsewhere, Julian materializes with Shael in his arms in a side alley near the Gaze.

Kryss Kryss pulls his hood low over his head, tucks away the parties newest prize, and tries to get back to the inn without being recognized.

Julian He wastes little time crashing through the door and calling to his fellow paladins for aid.

DM The two move swiftly to Shael, kneeling before the man who saved their life before. Now his rests with them.

Kryss Once Kryss feels the adrenaline die down, he sits and thinks. He pulls a book from his pack and leafs through it. “Aha!” Kryss says aloud. “I know just what to do.”

Kryss He makes his way directly to The Gaze, via populated streets, knowing Shael will find him there.

DM Alein and Tolea sit concernedly around Shael, drained of their powers by the wounds suffered at the hands of the assassins.

DM Lieutenant Shella has a guard posted by the door.

Kryss Kryss looms in the doorway. He makes his way to Shael’s side through the crowd of shorter paladins and heros. He places a hand upon his protectors chest and leans over him like a giant over a halfling.

Shael Shael’s eyes flutter open and he looks up at the paladins, “Oh, didn’t think angels would come greet me at the door.” he grins.

Kryss “You cannot eat a dragon… if youre dead.”

Shael Shael looks up at Kryss, “I wouldn’t die on you, buddy. Hardly a class move, eh?”

DM Lady Eriana has already returned to the keep for the evening, but the rest of the Gaze is still actively partying. However, it seems like it is a good time to take a long rest, here in the safe walls, rather than head back out when assassins may be lurking around waiting for them.

Julian “Assassins. At least seven.” Julian explains as Shael comes around and he stanches his own partly healed wounds with a cloth from Ahal. “Knew we’d be headed from here to the Shield, I guess.”

Kryss “and prevent me a small snack later? I should hope not. I should not have left your side. I allowed our attacker to escape. Next time, I will allow Julian to die.” he says solomnly.

Shael He chuckles and ripostes, “Next time, let’s not walk into the trap, I think.”

Julian Julian describes what happened to their allies. Minus a few minor details such as friendly ghosts and spells of fear.

DM “What sort of demon ogre did you face?” Shella asks, concerned.

Kryss Kryss steps out to see if the kitchen is still open.

Julian “I do not know, but it could fly and vanish from sight at a word…” Julian describes the creature in case anyone else has more of a clue than he does.

DM Gell has not yet stopped making food. His kinfolk from down river are still churning out plenty of vittles.

Kryss While he snacks he reviews his book of dragon lore to see if there is any mention in a footnote somewhere of a blue demon with horns. Kryss returns from the kitchen and mumbles to Julian with a full mouth, “Ibnadjafar wuz taki boudda ogur wif horns.” lamb drops into his beard.

Julian “Iwha… oh… hm… Maybe we should go talk to him in the morning.”

Kryss Kryss shrugs. “Awwrite,” and the giant wanders off to find another drink and some sleep.

DM Once asleep, bizarre dreams trouble the three of you, as images of your would-be assassins mingle with words that seem to come from an alien world beyond space and time. The hissing syllables, foreign to you, seem to twist and writhe together like snakes within your minds. You find yourself on a violet-blue plain, with three silver sunsets lighting your path.

DM A gate bars one path, while squirming vines…perhaps tentacles, covers the second. The third is littered with arrows. The choice is yours.

Kryss Kryss turns and examines the path they arrives from after ensuring the party is together in this strange dreamspace.

Shael Shael glances at the others and wonders, “Anyone bring a shovel?”

Julian Julian shakes his head.

Kryss “Down? I have figured you would choose up.”

Julian “Do you think this is where the Speaker finally shows his hand?”

DM Lightning, fire and light so radiant it hurts to look upon it bars the direction that leaves the three paths.

Kryss “I hate arrows…” Kryss mentions quietly.

Julian “Hmph.” Julian eyes the tentacled path balefully. “Do you have Shatterspike? Smash the gate.”

Shael Shael shrugs, “Hard to say.” he nods absently in response to Kryss while trying to deduce the best path.

Kryss He drifts towards the Arrow Gate, against his will. “No! I hate arrows!” he reaches back towards his friends before suddenly smashing into the arrow gate with a scream.

DM He finds himself deep in a forest. He hears horse hooves in the distance.

Kryss “Shael?” He asks aloud.

DM The scream is not his own. It belongs to a woman. The Constable?

Julian Left behind, Julian glances at Shael. “I think Kryss chose for us?”

Kryss “Hello?!” Kryss asks, trying to pinpoint the voice.

DM “Oh gods, please save me, he’s coming!”

Kryss Kryss charges through the woods, branches and small trees crashing in his wake.

Shael Shael is still considering the other two paths, he nods towards Julian and murmers, “Maybe.”

Kryss “Im coming!”

Kryss “Shael! I need your help! We have to save her!”

Julian “Right then… unless you have a different plan…” Julian moves towards the arrow path.

DM Kryss and Julian emerge through the trees, in a crypt. A small child cries on a stone table before them. A male child. He covers his face, weeping.

Shael Shael shakes his head and drifts after Julian, watching curiously for the effect as he touches the path.

Kryss Kryss is already charged up and he dashes to the childs side without regard for his own saftey.

Kryss “I hate arrows.”

Julian Julian hangs back a bit, warier. “Who are you? What is this place?”

DM The child looks up at them, turning to face the pair. Arrows protrude from its eyes and its forehead is completely gone, a hole bored through. “Help…me…”

Kryss Kryss picks up the child and holds it out to Julian, “We have too… we cant…”

Julian Julian recoils at the first sight, then recovers. He nods grimly to Kryss. “Let me try…”


Shael Shael glances across the glade towards the gated path. The furrow of his brow deepens as he finally looks at the vine strewn path. Shael’s steps cary him confidently into the vines – tentacles?

DM Tentacles, definitely tentacles. When they part, he finds himself before a sphere of such pure blackness that he is unsure it is there, rather than…not.

Shael Shael continues walking confidently forward – his pace is measured and steady as he enters the blackness.

DM He feels himself start to vanish, burning away as he touches the black sphere. It is pure void.

Shael Shael does not hesitate or falter; he fills himself with the light of his existence sending the shimmering energy through each cell of his body to defend against its antithesis. His stride continues unabated.

DM Every cell of his mental body is disintegrated into dust, but he maintains his consciousness through each and every one of them, drawing them back together. The sphere blinks and he can see the eye within. “You draw back from the void?”

Shael The wizard does not fight the bloody tears of pain, but neither does he allow them to slow him. “No.” he says simply. He stands in the maelstrum and confronts the eye while his body disintigrates and he reforms it. “I am renewed by the challenge.”

Shael He reaches out to snatch the eye, to tear its globby substance from its anchor – he’s going to eat it.

DM The eye blasts a black beam from its depths, sending pain flashing up and down his essence. “The void is not yours to trifle with.”

Shael Shael snatches back the charred husk of his arm now unable to reform it within the void it splinters and undulates into infinite. “And shall not be in this life.” he agrees in a growl, “So open the path or I will destroy us both.” he shakes his other arm in preparation after the threat.

DM “Rogukan awaits you, little manling. As do the giants of the eight runes.” The mouth to match the giant eye opens now…wider, and wider still. Shael is swallowed up.

Julian He works a healing spell.

DM He is able to channel the healing energy into the child. The hole does not close, the arrows remain in its eyes, but the child smiles, rather than whimpering. “Thank…you…”

Julian “You’re welcome.”

Julian “Do you have a name?”

Kryss “What can we do to help you? I need to help you! Why do I need to help you?” Kryss rattles at the child from his knees. “What is this place?”

Adrian “The Burning.” “We’re in the Burning. I’m Adrian.”

Kryss “I dont… what happened to you?!”

Adrian “The Bishop. He said Tal wanted me to come.”

Kryss “Let me avenge you. Let me make this right.”

Julian “I’m Julian, Adrian. Were you burnt, then?”

DM “Tal is not here. Albie is not here. Talbie. They go together don’t they?” The child laughs.

Kryss “None of this makes sense. Where is Shael? I want to go.”

Julian “Easy, Kryss. You can look around a bit, maybe? And yeah, they do, don’t they? You know, when I was your age, I used to call the paladins Taladins.”

Adrian “Talbrecht. My brother was named after the god. I was supposed to take care of him.”

Kryss Kryss calms at the familier voice. “This place doesnt make sense.” he repeats but he follows Julians advice and explores around the area a bit.

Julian “Did something happen?”

DM The floor is made of bones, and the walls are too. As he looks around, a sultry feminine figure detaches itself from the wall and runs her fingers down Kryss’s arm. “Be at peace, warrior.”

Adrian Adrian nods. “They were butchered. Every last one of them.”

Kryss He snatches his arm back. “I… cant do that. I love her.” he whispers.

Julian “By who?” Julian has his suspicions.

DM The woman’s flesh burns away, leaving a scorched hag in its wake as she screams. “Love? A dragon cannot love…” She falls back, gasping.

Adrian Adrian looks at Julian. “The Cathezar. It comes. With blood and rage and misery.”

Kryss “Im not a…” he trails off. “Im not a dragon.”

Adrian Tears of blood flow from Adrian’s arrow punctured eyes.

Julian “The cathezar.” Julian fingers the hilt of Lightbringer… the other weapon lies in his pack, forgotten for now.

Kryss “Not a… NO! I am a dragon. I am Kryzschakaviss the Red. I am He Who Walks Among. I am Fear, I am Eternal.”

Julian “Come it may. It will find a paladin to meet it.”

Kryss Kryss continues to mutter under his breath but he is getting louder. “I am Wing of Death, the Spawn of a Goddess.”

DM His shadow grows as he intones to the succubus.

Kryss He collects himself at length. “I am Not for You.” he says with finality. “Julian. What can we do for the child? I am duty bound to find Shael.”

Julian “We can’t go back. The only way out is forward. Do you want to come with us, Adrian?”

Kryss “We will help you little one. You are surrounded by evil and lust here. We will find you a light.”

DM Adrian goes to nod, but though the head dips, it never comes back up. The child disolves into ichor, a hissing sound coming up from its departure. Words suddenly ring out clearly over the hissing, as if howled by a madman. “The coin is spun! The gates swing wide!” The sound of a thousand thousand raining coins fills the air, and the trio sink into a deeper sleep. Asleep, but will they ever wake up, Loyal Readers? Only you can find out and only next week! Join us then!

The Speaker in Dreams 10
Brindinford, Goodmonth Week 2.1 BCY 14500

Shael Shael keeps his composure and triumphant meign until he and Julian meet Kryss and Devis carrying Ember and Lidda into the foyer. Seeing that all his companions are safe, Shael smiles peacefully and leans against the wall – he slowly slouches down to the ground and is soundly asleep before his body fully settles. “…we made it… I didn’t fail this time…”

Julian? Julian sheathes his bloody knife without cleaning it or even looking at it and stores it away. He gives a tight smile to Shael as they return. “Guess we’re resting here.” he remarks to Kryss.

Shael When he awakens, the young mage is filled with renewed purpose: he immediately sets about exploring the arcanaum of occultism, seeking every bolt-hole, nook and cranny. Once his curiousity is sated and he feels comfortable in the security of the Reality Wrinkle, Shael’s first task is to set out to check on Alein and Tolea.

Julian Julian joins him, though the paladin is less interested in the books and more interested in ensuring no more of the minor cultist minions lurk about.

DM They have expunged the vile house of the cult, the Blessed was the last to fall here. When they check on Alein and Tolea, the elder paladin sits up rubbing her head. “It’s…gone?”

Shael “From the city, yes…” he glances at Julian, wondering if he should say any more.

Julian The paladin seems quite content at that.

Alein She winces, holding her hand up to shade her eyes. “At…what cost?” She seems confused though, because she continues on. “The gold is coming.”

Julian Julian pauses from cleaning Lightbringer. “What?”

Shael Shael observs her speculatively.

Alein “It…was a high coin?” She breathes heavily and sinks back in her bed.

Julian Julian shakes his head.

Shael “Just take your time if it’s important.” Shael says comfortingly.

Alein “Serra…forgives when even Tal will not be merciful,” she tells Shael. “I am…so grateful to both of you. My eyes are…tired. But thank you.”

Shael Shael stands upright, stiffening. His smile is quick and uncertain, “We do as we must.” he reassures her. “Only let us know if we can be of service again.”

DM She nods dreamily, already drifting off to sleep. Tolea shakes her head. “No, please, let us be the ones to know if service can be offered. We owe you much.”

Julian “Thanks.” Julian nods gruffly. “I’d better check on the others.”

Shael Recovering, Shael chuckles. “Madam, do you ask service in turn for your duty?” he shakes his head, “I’ll make you this accord, we will call on you if you will us.” Glancing at Julian, Shael nods and the two take their leave.

Tolea Tolea beams, offering them a salute as they go.

Julian Julian returns it smartly, although he grimaces uneasily once they are on their own. “Do you think she saw something?” he asks Shael as they head over to the other rescuees.

Shael “I think we are safe.” he replies easilly. “And if we weren’t, we are capable… unless there is something that ties you to this land more than another?” he asks with a grin.

Julian “No… well, I don’t know. But we can’t be reckless. I… really am not ready for anyone to find things out.”

Shael Nodding along slowly in pace with his step, “Recklessness is born of desperation, and I am not desperate. I will do all the good I can in this world before my time is done… all I can do is enough. All the same, I don’t think I am either.” Shael ponders at length, “There is more we can do than we have.”

Julian Julian half grins. “You sound like more of a paladin than I do some days.” He nods. “That’s for sure. Come on, let’s see if they’ve come around. If they have, maybe we can get out of this place.”

Shael Shael blinks in surprise, “Oof, harsh words from a harsh critic.” He frowns thoughtfully and nods as they head back to the Wrinkle.

DM They find their battered companions have come to and are gingerly tending to each other’s wounds.

Kryss Kryss takes up a protective position while his companions deal with the others.

Shael “Thanks for keeping an eye on things, Kryss.” Shael says, rejoining them. “How are you all? Recovering?”

Lidda Lidda nods. “I feel like my head’s been turned inside out.”

Julian “I bet. This place screwed with my head enough even without anyone else trying to get in. Seeing things that aren’t there, not seeing things that are… can’t imagine how it was for you guys.”

Shael Shael nods at length, “Almost had, sorry for knockin’ you about, though.”

Ember Ember looks at Julian curiously, but does not disagree. “I feel out of touch with myself. Like I am floating in my own soul.”

Shael “Well, the place is mostly under control, now. You’re welcome to loiter until you’re recovered – don’t know what you all have going on in the city, whether it’s aught to be worried about, but you’ll be safe here now.”

<kryss> “What did we learn from The Blessed? Is the threat to this city vanquished? Can I find a place to set up shop yet?” Kryss asks.

Julian “Or if you want to get out, I can show you the way back into town. The paths don’t seem as confusing now that she’s dead.”

<kryss> “Fapas expects me to make a 3 gold profit this month and I havent sold a single nail.”

Julian “Honestly, Kryss, I’m not sure that there’s anyone left to give you any trouble.”

Shael “The threats to the city are normal threats to a city this size now – excepting that the Captain is still missing.”

Julian …in a sudden moment of doubt, the paladin glances upward. Are the gods roaring with laughter?

Kryss Kryss nods and with a glance at Shael he excuses himself. He finds a ramshackle table in the book store and sets it up outside the bookstore.

Shella If they are, the agent of their mirth is Lieutenant Shella, who arrives at that moment. “Did you…find my men?” she asks, concernedly. Naturally, they have not found her men. And they’ve looked over every nook and cranny, as previously mentioned.

Julian “No… I thought they went back out, didn’t they? They definitely aren’t here.”

Ember Ember looks concerned. “They did go back out…” she agrees with Julian.

Shael “Yes, they did…” Shael murmers worriedly. He communes privately with Ojo to see if she noticed which direction they went.

Julian Julian fills the Lieutenant in on what they know.

Ojo The big house Ojo replies, riding the ground between flippant and bored.

Julian “I take it they didn’t report back?”

Shael Shael sweeps past Shella and exits the Wrinkle to scan the horizon for a building resembling Ojo’s report.

Kryss “Nails or bolts for you sir?” Kryss asks as Shael exits the shop, not recognizing him. “Oh, sorry. All well inside?” Kryss asks.

DM The Lord’s Mansion probably fits the description.

Shael “Nope.” his gaze settles on the mansion and he barely takes the time to poll Ojo for confirmation before he’s running in that direction.

Kryss Kryss sighs and knocks the table over follwing. “JULIAN!” bellows Kryss as he rushes off.

DM The Baron’s Keep is the only section of Brindinford that is walled off from the rest. The hundred by one fifty-yard area is built against the outer wall of the city at the top of Silver Hill, overlooking the Brinding River. The walls boast the same height and thickness as the city wall.

Kryss A shadow dances at Julians feet before a hiss flickers in his ear, “The others are saving the king, idiot,” whispers Master Xi before disappearing.

Julian “What king?” Julian follows along anyway. “From the sound of it your men went up to the Lord’s Mansion.” he explains to the lieutenant.

Shael Shael stops at the wall and frantically looks both ways for an entrance. Noticing the guards he growls and waits for the others to catch up, pacing.

Shella “Oh, well that’s fine then,” she nods, satisfied. “If they had to report to the baron, that would explain why they’ve not returned yet.”

Julian “The good news is… if she DID have their minds, she’s dead now…” Julian is musing to himself as he arrives.

Kryss Kryss slows to stop by his friend. “Any point in asking what were doing?”

Shella Shella is beside Julian, and she asks. “Does magic go away once the magician is dead?”

Shael “No.” Shael tells Julian, “The Blessed was not the final threat – remember the Speaker. If they are infected…” he trails off.

Julian “Well, it did for the others. Lidda and Devis and Ember.”

Shella “Infected? I thought the Blessed was the speaker…” Shella also trails off, clearly not having as solid a grasp on the situation as she would like.

Julian “But you’re right…” he glances at Shael uneasily. “It’s possible there’s still something out there.”

Kryss “We need to get to the Lord.” Kryss says. “Ill tell the guards to let us through.”

Julian “Answer is, we don’t know. It could well be over. There’s a possibility it’s not.”

Kryss “I knocked over 30 silver in precious goods. We need to investigate.”

Shael Shael wrings his hands, there’s more to say but nothing that would be helpful this second. “The Speaker is different, it isn’t… local… so…” he shrugs, “…we were just going to deal with it nextish.”

Julian “Well, let’s put it to rest one way or another. If we find them and they are all right, then we’ll have peace of mind about it.” Julian approaches the gate.

Kryss Kryss follows.

Shella Shella strides up with them.

Shael Shael waits for Shella to follow before joining them. He mutters quietly, “The important part is not to get framed for the m…” he chokes off the rest and clears his throat.

DM The guards greet them. “Lieutenant. Sir Kryss. Sir Julian. Sir Shael.”

Julian Julian returns the greeting and asks whether the four men they are seeking passed this way.

Shael “Oh.” Shael says hesitantly. He glances at the others, “When did that happen?” he wonders quietly.

Kryss Kryss shrugs. “What happened?”

Guard “They did, actually. Said they had important news for the Baron.”

Shael He shrugs it off, “Not used to sirring.” He speaks up, “How long ago?”

Guard “A little less than a bell ago.”

Shael “Please, let us through?” he begs. More quietly, “There may still be time…”

Kryss “Were going to need to interrupt.”

Julian “Can we have an escort in, please?”

Guard “Certainly, Bors, you take them in, will you?” The large man with a thick neck nods as much as possible and sets off with them.

Shael Shael’s steps quickly take him ahead of the others. He turns back, “Quickly, please? Quickly…” he exhorts.

Julian Julian makes his way in.

DM They arrive at the baron’s hall to see the three town guards with crossbows drawn on four very confused looking noble bodyguards.

Julian Julian strides foward decisively, putting himself in the midst of the situation. “What’s going on?”

Shael Shael charges past them towards the Throne Room, “Cover me!” he says without further preamble.

Kryss Kryss draws a javelin to throw.

DM One of the townguards turns, sees the charge, and fires his crossbow. The other two, shocked, do so as well. Two of the guards slump down the wall as the bolts slam into them.

Julian “Damn! You were right!” Julian swings into action, striking to subdue.

DM Julian’s attacks slam one of the rogues against the wall, where he slumps down with a less bloody trail than his noble fellows did, and the other staggers, falling to one knee.

Shael Shael ignores the city guardsman and continues carving a path straight through the room to the Throne Room to swing open the doors.

DM The doors do not swing easily at all.

Kryss As Shael tugs at the door, Shatterspike swings past his shoulder, slamming into the door.

DM In fact, they appear stuck. Shatterspike catches on a chandelier, tangling it and preventing Kryss from bringing his full might against it. The chandelier is of course, shattered into a million brilliant pieces. Angrily, the dragon warrior kicks the door with his boot, slamming it open. Within, a pretty young woman looks up from a desk covered in maps and papers, aghast. “What on earth?”

Shella Shella moves in on the wounded guard, smashing his head into the wall and dropping him as well.

Kryss “Shael wants to talk to you lady,” Kryss jerks a thumb at his friend.

Shael Shael holds up a finger, “Ahh…” he looks back at the melee, “…um…” he looks back at the young woman, “…errrr…” he glances at the broken chandelier, “…uuuuuhhh…” Shael reaches to close the door.

Julian Julian takes care of the final rogue guard.

DM His razor sharp mind is able to immediately realize that they have interrupted the assassination attempt in the middle, thanks to their quick action…the noble bodyguards had not yet been bypassed by the townies. Townies that now lie unconscious on the ground.

Kryss “Wait a minute! Youre not a baron!” Kryss points out.

Shael With the door closed, Shael smooths out his hair and straightens his coat. “…first impressions…” he mutters through his ministrations.

Julian He glances at the noble guards as he kneels to tend to their wounded companions. “What happened here? Did anyone get past you?”

DM Opening the door back up, the woman composes her own self quickly. “I am not the baron. I am Lady Eriana, the Lord Baron’s sister.”

Shael He toes the broken chandelier pieces, trying to shove them under a carpet or something. “Huh? Oh, nah.” he says, turning around sharply when Eriana speaks.

DM "They…said they had to talk to the baron…they were acting strange, so we weren’t going to let them through…then they went for their crossbows and you guys showed.

Shael “Where’s the, er, Baron… then?”

Guards “He’s in his rooms, but we weren’t going to let them threaten the Lady Eriana…Her life is worth all of ours.”

Kryss Kryss jerks the door behind him again, “The baron isnt here!” he shouts to Julian, “We havent stopped anything!”

Shael “Bloody and bloody hells, where are his rooms? Lietenant, how many men were in this squad?”

Shella “Five, but only three were unaccounted for,” Shella tries to calm the pair down.

Shael “Lady Eriana, please, where are his rooms? Your brother is in danger!”

Julian “Easy, Shael.” Julian sheathes his weapon. “That’s all of them then I’m sorry, your friend is beyond my help.”

Shael “Er, oh… you said the other two… where are they?” he turns back to Shella.

Julian “We believe that these three men were overcome by a witch’s spell and sent, likely, to assassinate the baron. Almost certainly they were not themselves.” Julian continues explaining the situation to the Baron’s guards in a markedly calmer tone.

Eriana The Lady Eriana moves in, a tear on her cheek as she sees the man who died to protect her. “Valius…”

Kryss Kryss turns a shade of red as he realizes the situation is under control. He slumps hugely into a very fancy chair in the Lady’s sitting room. THe legs creak dangerously.

Eriana She composes herself, and looks up. “You four have risked your lives for…what, exactly?”

Kryss “Shael said so.” Kryss rubs his temples, eyes closed.

Shael Shael shifts uncomfortably. His gaze bounces from Lady Eriana to Julian and the other guards to Kryss.

Kryss “Im going to eat you first you know,” Kryss mumbles at his friend.

Shella “It’s my duty, your Ladyship,” Shella responds.

Julian “I am Julian, my Lady, and my companions Kryss and Shael. I am sure you know the Lieutenant.”

Shael “It’s all fine now…” he snipes back at Kryss, “…probably.” Clearing his throat he looks back at Eriana and lets Julian speak for them.

Julian “We had been following the trail of this for some time when we learned of this attempt.”

Eriana She nods, listening as she orders the bodyguards to take care of Valius’ body and send reinforcements. “Please, come in this way, explain this to me.” She leads them into the room they found her in.

Shael Shael brightens and nods as if Julian has come up with the perfect excuse for their gallantry.

Kryss Kryss drags himself from his chair with a groan. He follows into the interior room and stands with his back to the door while they talk.

Shael His gaze dissects the room, absorbing the details, as he steps inside.

Julian Julian enters with the others. “Well, my Lady, I am sure you have heard of some of the strange events which have troubled the fair…” He gives a details-lite version of the plots and sinister foes the party has battled thus far, ending with their confrontation with The Blessed and their pursuit of the guards here.

Kryss Kryss stares longingly at a particularly fluffy looking half bed against the opposite wall.

Eriana “My gracious. You are honest heroes then!”

Kryss “And weary.”

Shael Shael’s interest in one tome or another is viciously torn away by the unwelcome recognition. He stares at Julian desperately.

Julian “That’s very kind of you. In truth we had help from a number of quarters.”

Eriana “Well, then clearly I owe you more than just my life. We will hold a feast in town to celebrate your heroism and salvation of the city, that the common folk who benefited the most can share in with you.”

Shael Shael’s smile is clearly forced, but he cannot refuse on account of the dragon would eat him if he stopped the feast.

Kryss “Would the feast start with this meat and cheese platter over here on your table?” Kryss asks.

Julian Julian coughs politely.

Shael “…death is lighter than a feather…” he mutters to himself from the corner of the room.

Eriana “Oh that? They brought me dinner bells ago, and I was just too busy with these missives to touch it. Please, put it to use, if you don’t mind cold meat.”

Kryss “Thats no problem at all, I can warm it up.” Kryss opens his mouth as if to yawn.

Shael Shael quickly advances and places his hand on Kryss’s back, “Um, that is to say…we wouldn’t want to trouble your lady…hood.”

Julian “ship” Julian murmurs.

Kryss Kryss coughs and hiccups, “Ah, right. As you say.” He nods at the Lady.

Shael He blushes at Julian. “Already, I mean, we just… so much to do, life of a, er, hero and all.”

Eriana “No, no, I insist. Tomorrow night. I will have Axom take care of the arrangements. A city wide feast. At a suitable common establishment…”

Shael “Damse, er, dragons to, um, the people and…” he slouches, defeated. “Yes, of course. It is an honor.”

Kryss “Could I make a request? That guy that escorted us here? From the gate? Solid fellow. I recommend highest honors for him.”

DM Bors has of course, gone off to take care of his dead compatriot.

Kryss “Id like to thank him somehow. Shael? Is there money in the budget to provide this fine soldier a monetary reward?”

Shael Shael blinks slowly up at Kryss. Swallowing he nods and withdraws a purse. He shifts it open and considers before laying the pouch of one-hundred gold coins on the desk, “Could you see that the guards receive a share as our thanks? And, a triple-share to Valius’ family? I… didn’t mean to be too late…” He turns and leaves before she has a chance to protest.

Kryss Kryss nods politely again and follows.

Eriana To her credit, she does not protest. It seems she understands the burden they bear.

Kryss “I really am going to eat you first,” Kryss says to Shael as they leave the manor gate.

Julian Julian waits for leave and then follows his companions with Shalla.

Kryss “I really wanted that meat and cheese plate.”

Shael “Not if I eat you first.” Shael rejoinds.

Kryss Kryss stumbles for a step, “What?! Thats ridiculous. I will be a massive dragon.”

Shella Shella looks confusedly at the pair’s banter. “You have very strange friends, Julian.”

Shael “I didn’t say I’d eat you quickly.” he says with a grin. “Nibble by nibble, you won’t even notice. One day, you’ll be gone.” he nods approvingly of his plan.

Julian “Yes,” he agrees, “I suppose I do. Good ones though.”

Kryss Kryss looks extremely taken aback. “I… Wa…” he falls silent, pouting. He follows quietly, watching Shael closely out of the side of his eye.

Shael He stops a block away from the manor and looks back at it. “Lew-tenant, join us? I think we’ll have to find a tailor if we’re to be a spectacle tomorrow.” he smiles reassuringly.

Kryss “Do you think they have anything in purple?” Kryss asks, forgetting his pouting.

DM “I am still on duty for another three bells, but I will join you at the Gaze tonight, if you’re going to be there?” She answers Shael, but her eyes are on Julian.

Kryss “We were thinking about staying at the…” Kryss answers obliviously.

Shael He considers, “Kryss and I may be busy, hard to say this early in the day. If we can, of course. I’ll find the tailor, when you see Julian later he’ll get your measurements?”

Julian “I’ll see you there, either way.”

Shella She smiles at him and heads off, presumably back to the barracks.

Kryss “Do you guys think I should get my armor polished to a mirror finish? I think she likes me and Id like to look my best tonight.” Kryss asks.

Julian “Yeah. Definitely. Set it off with some pink silks, too. You know, to hint at your hidden draconic fires within.”

Shael Shael nods, “Yes, everyone knows how important pink silk is.”

Kryss “Silk is good.” Kryss answers, nodding. “Human women like pink?”

Devis “They love it,” Devis confirms, coming up behind them.

Julian “Oh, hey, Devis. Good to see you back on your feet.”

Kryss Kryss looms over Shaels shoulder at the newcomer. “Were looking for a tailor and an armor smith that works fast and cheap.”

Devis “Tailor I can do. I think you need a slave for the armor though.”

Kryss “Where can we purchase those?” Kryss asks.

Shael Shael wonders to Julian, “D’you think there’s any way we could frame them for all the heroics? Maybe sleep in tomorrow? Read a book?” Shael swats Kryss, “No slaves.” he says dissaprovingly.

Kryss Kryss shrugs.

Julian “No, I don’t think so. Kryss is very recognizable.”

Kryss “I am a dragon.” Kryss nods.

Shael Shael sighs. “Well, we should at least bring them with. And Tolea. Spread the attention around, eh?”

Devis “Bring us to what? To whatever we need the tailor for?”

Kryss “I think they should give me their helpings of roast though. In exchange for the invitation.”

Shael “Yes, a feast.” he answers Devis, “I didn’t catch the details, a bit faint maybe.”

Shael “You’re a glutton, Kryss. You can have mine.”

Kryss “Is that a type of dragon?”

Shael Shael laughs aloud, “I suppose it could be said.” he agrees.

Julian “Anyway, you want to come? You’re all invited.”

Kryss “In exchange for your helpings of roast.”

Shael “Well, then you can’t have mine.”

Devis “Sounds smashing. Reward for the wererat scuffle?”

Kryss A deep growl rumbles in Kryss’ massive chest.

Julian “Among other things. It’s been a busy week.”

Shael “Oh, the wererats should be gone – at least, let us know if you see anymore… you shouldn’t.”

Devis “If we see any more of those thugs, we’ll take them down,” Devis says confidently. His group did tangle with the rats on a few occasions, after all.

Shael Shael nods hesitantly. “Oh, good.”

Kryss “Right, well I expect you can find us at the bookstore in the future. Someone also said something about eating something i think…”

Shael “Yes, I said I was going to nibble your toes off.” Shael says, he leads Kryss off to find some food before the dragon really does eat him.

Kryss Kryss follows, arguing that it would take longer than the span of a human lifetime to eat a dragon of his size.

Shael Shael counters that eating dragons extends human longevity.

Julian “I hear that it lets you understand the speech of birds too.”

Kryss Kryss insists that any studies made to that effect were likely conducted by humans and thus null.

Shael Shael suggests that it would be simple to empirically test; if he can speak with birds after eating Kryss’ toes then he’ll live forever. Logic.

Kryss “I think we should talk about something else for awhile.” Kryss replies, stepping away a bit.

Julian And so the evening goes, punctuated by interludes for tailoring or armor-polishing. Julian eventually heads out to keep his appointment at the Gaze.

DM And so the paladin goes to dinner with the Lieutenant, the dragon goes to polish his armor and the wizard-savant heads off to curl up with a book or two. Join us next week for their well deserved reward and to find out what journeys lie ahead for our heroes!

The Speaker in Dreams 9
Brindinford, Goodmonth Week 1.7 BCY 14500

Session 26

DM When last we left our heroes, they had knocked out the dominated dupes Ember and Lidda, as well as dispatching their enchanters. Now, only Devis remains to be rescued. Battered but not beaten, our heroes push on towards their friend and no doubt the Blessed…

Julian Julian glances at Shael and Kryss. “Ready?”

Kryss “I am.” Kryss replies gravely.

Shael Shael chuckles brightly, “Yeah, that sounds like me.” he gathers up the ‘learning aids’ he used to show his friends the various magic that may be employed against them during their short rest. “The usual plan?”

Kryss “Works for me.”

Julian Julian nods. “It’s more or less worked out most of the time so far.”

Kryss “Ok then, usual plan, see what happens.”

Shael “No plan, got it.” he motions for Kryss to take the lead this time – though he’s not mentioned it, his companions likely know he’s low on resources after being unable to rest through the night while he performed the ritual to bind the building to his will (tenuous though that binding may be.)

Kryss Kryss is happy to take point.

DM As they head up the stairs, a foul yellow smoke billows down, clouding their sight.

Shael Shael immedietely retreats, trusting his companions to follow along while holding their breath.

Kryss Kryss follows behind.

Julian Julian falls back as well. If this is a spell, it seems best to let it fade before pressing on.

Kryss “So much for the usual,” Kryss says.

DM While the smoke sticks to them in cloying pieces, it does not, in fact, do more than cloud their sight.

Kryss “How long before it passes?” Kryss asks, wishing silently for massive wings to fan the cloud away.

Shael “This? It’s probably just a fog cloud, could be an hour if they don’t make another move first.” Shael responds after a few minutes to make sure.

DM A few minutes later, the cloud remains roiling.

Julian “Should we just head through then, or wait it out?” Julian defers to Shael’s expertise.

Shael “My guess is that it’s to hide traps…” he judges the time involved, “…or cover a retreat. Less a matter of tactics and more of priorities; what do we want to accomplish? I say charge like usual.” he grins.

Julian “All right with me.” Julian wonders if they have a ten-foot pole among them.

Kryss Kryss immediately charges back up the stairs into the cloud

Julian “Guess that was all right with him too!” Julian waits just a moment for any horrible screams of pain to signify traps, and failing that, rushes after.

Shael He chuckles suddenly and says, “I have an idea…” he says, “…Kryss, wait up.”

Kryss Kryss tumbles into the bottom step trying to heed Shaels instructions.

DM A massive seven tentacled alien worm erupts forth from a yawning maw to the Far Realm. Alien spittle gets in Julian’s eyes.

Shael “Huh, interesting…” he says, observing the tactics of his enemy curiously. “…not quite a nemesis yet.” he murmers. “And the bastion looked into the abyss and spat upon madness, the feeble grip was cast aside in the firmament of faith and knowledge.” Shael incants, pressing his hands together prayer-like.

Julian “Damn it… two can play at this…” Julian vanishes. The bard’s footsteps can be heard stumbling forward.

Kryss Kryss lashes out at the creature nearest him.

DM Chucks of alien slime fall off the thing. “Rollingwavesofprimeroastribinbluemerrygoroundribbonwheelslahdeedahmuthamoohas” The creatures gibber maddeningly as they mindlessly attack. The alien creature lunges towards the invisible Julian, snatching him up unerringly. The smoke clears, revealing…nothing. A purple tentacled worm is grappling with nothing in the middle of the room. No one else is here. Which is obviously where the magic missiles come from. And the flung statue. The statue bounces off Kryss and tumbles to the floor.

Shael Shael withdraws a scroll from a case hidden at the bottom of his beltpouch and purses his lips and carefully incants the foreign magic. Tilting his head and standing on his tip-toes he looks around the flailing Kryss to see if the enemy witch has been revealed.

DM Devis and a foreign looking exotic woman shimmer into view.

Shael “Ah!” he says excitedly. He dusts the burnt dust of the scroll from his hands. “Um… Miss, who are you? You’re not the blessed.” he hollars.

Shael “Blessed? Whatever, you’re not her.”

Psychic “My occultic powers will put you in your grave.”

Shael “I… well, I mean, they won’t.” he points at his third eye, “Diviner.” he shrugs apologetically.

Julian Julian struggles against the beast that has hold of him.

Psychic “My phrenic pool will drown you, Diviner.”

Julian Since it clearly can sense him, he retreats with alacrity.

Kryss Kryss suddenly plants a foot and puts his axe into a dizzying spin, circling the gibbering creature while building momentum for a series of razor sharp strikes against the Mouther.

Shael “I… I don’t even… phrenic? I mean, are you coming onto me?”

Psychic “Within the mind of any sentient being lies power to rival that of the greatest magical artifact or holy site!”

Shael “You just… you’re not even talking to me, are you?” with Kryss out of the way, Shael doesn’t have to crane his neck around him anymore. “Are you reading a pamphelet?”

Psychic “By accessing these staggering vaults of mental energy, I can shape the world around me, the minds of others, and pathways across the planes. No place or idea is too secret or remote for me to access, and I can pull from every type of psychic magic!” She looks up as Shael accuses her of reading from a pamphlet. A decidedly guilty look steals across her evil face. And then it is replaced by a lot of blood as Kryss draws near.

Shael “If you have access to all the disciplines, you should use psychometabolism or telepathy as the baseline for your trash-talk. ‘I can see into your mind, twist your soul to my will.’ That sort of thing.” Shael encourages.

Psychic She does not respond, being smashed into a full sommersault that ends with her face down on the floor.

Kryss “Im sorry Boss, were you guys still talking?” Kryss looks back at Shael.

Shael “Oh, it’s fine.” Shael replies, waving it off. “She’s not the Blessed – if she falls short of expectations, I won’t be too dissapointed.”

Kryss “You want me to…” he jerks a thumb at the Wyste and drags it across his neck, “too?”

Shael “Well, I mean probably not…” he says hesitantly, “…she’s still a person. Her madness may be no more than Ember and Lyda’s – something we can cure.”

Julian While the other two heroes clean up, a gurgle comes from somewhere as Julian is dragged off his feet and dangles struggling in midair.

DM Devis chants a healing song, while magic missiles fly in to blast Kryss once again. The psychic woman bears down with her mind on Shael, who deflects the attack easily. She blinks. The wyste snatches up Kryss, taking hits of its own. It crushes Kryss and Julian, seeking to draw them into its maw. The gibberers shuffle towards the fray. Their spittle washes off Jules and Kryss.

Shael Shael mentiones absently, “I’m, like, the worst target for that… what was it?” he wonders, considering the components. “Hold person? Well, if you have that much time on your hands to be more concerned about me than them… I suppose we can increase the difficulty of this little melee.” He slips something from his pouch, winds up, and throws A GIANT, TERRIFYING BEAST OF UTTER MADNESS into the fight. The tentacled monster charges the Wyste.

DM It then avoids the wyste and crushes the psychic into paste. She barely has time to scream before she is torn apart. But she does scream. It’s fairly unsettling.

Shael “Oh… too much difficulty.” Shael says with a wince, he looks sick.

Julian Julian shimmers into view as the wyste’s grip slackens under the attack, the Voice of Tal bursting forth to strike down the remaining foes. As the psychic falls, he redirects it towards the wyste and wounded mouther.

DM It shreds through the creatures, but neither of the hardy pseduonaturals fall. It seems that the word of a god is not as meaningful to those creatures that are as far removed from space and time as they are from morality.

Kryss Kryss pours dragonfire onto the wyste as he roars in defiance of the grapple.

DM In fact, it seems as though the voice is being unwoven as it emerges from the lips of the prophet. Its magic stolen, undermined…countered.

Kryss Kryss’ flame burns hotter as the spell unravels. He focuses on the wyste and narrows his flame to a white hot line, the room is filled with the scent of burning rubber.

DM Its skin crackles and pops, never snapping, as the flames wash over it.

Kryss Kryss’ eyes narrow on the damaged spot, so as to target it later.

DM A white flash rips through the area, searing flesh.

Devis “You’re all going to die up here,” Devis intones in a dark empty voice. A look of panic in his eyes reveals the trapped mind within. He mutters a word to heal the mangled corpse before him. It doesn’t work.

Shael The Strange Thing backs up to the wall and with an unearthly wail charges at its kin, maw agape. Shael advances slowly, searching the surrounding area for the hidden caster. Unable to see well enough into the room, he incants a spell and walks up the side of the wall towards the cieling so he can avoid the melee on the ground.

Julian Julian finally succumbs to the twin assault of fireball and wyste.

DM The wyste flails around with its tentacles, snapping Julian’s back and battering Kryss even as the large warrior cuts back at the creature. Greenish ichor douses the area.

Shael As his companions begin falling to the ground, Shael stops his search and gains a position to send healing magic towards them. He remains fully aware of his precarious tactical position and does what he can to mitigate it despite their danger.

Shael Oh, yeah – he’s walking on the ceiling.

Julian The paladin’s eyes flicker, and he half rolls, half falls down the stairs. “Kryss… here… get you out…”

Kryss Kryss twists and roars again, breaking free of the wystes coils and chasing behind his friend.

DM The wyste snaps at him as he flees and gives chase.

Devis “Run like your mother, coward!” Devis calls after the fleeing pair.

DM The wyste pounds impotently against the hallway walls, but Devis’s comments really hurt.

Kryss “Im not… did you hear that?” Kryss slides to a stop and turns.

DM Black tentacles grow out of the ceiling and seek to crush Shael’s life. They swat at the Strange Thing as well. The Blessed shimmers into view as they do. She is also standing on the ceiling.

Shael “Welcome.” Shael says calmly. “It is nice to finally meet you.” he smiles vaguely while slipping a potion from the pouch at his side – he frowns as he considers how to quaff it, in the end he just follows his instincts. “Did you want to talk before I catch up with my friends?”

The Blessed “I’ll send you through the portal. Kay? Or tea?”

Shael “Maybe Tea first – what’s the key?” he asks.

The Blessed “Farther than dreams. The dreams can’t reach.”

Julian Julian struggles to his feet to face their pursuer.

The Blessed “Have you ever seen an algorithim dissolve into component angles?”

Shael “It only dissolves if you can’t keep up with the rate of change.”

Julian A blessed word heals some of Kryss’s wounds.

DM The wyste looks like it is in bad shape. Hopefully Devis doesn’t follow it down to provide the same.

Kryss Kryss takes his assigned position and matches Julians attacks from another angle.

The Blessed “The sun of order lights the surface of the sea, but in the dark depths, the chaos lurks.”

Kryss Kryss runs up the creature’s back as Julian’s assault distracts it. He lops off its head with Shatterspike and the purple mass collapses in a pool of dissolving slime. “We gotta get back in there with Shael!” Kryss dashes back up the stairs.

Julian “Let me… heal… you…” Julian is evidently speaking too slowly, through the froth of blood, to dissuade Kryss.

Shael “Chaos is no more than a component of order, and order chaos. In darkness, order is awash in every twin vertice. In the light, the warmth of the sun sends every component element dancing. We are one, why do you seek to be separate?”

The Blessed “Show him, my pathetic minion.”

Devis Devis does his best to show Shael.

Shael Shael looks down at Devis, tilting his head to the side curiously. “What show have you crafted for me, Devis?”

DM Lights explode and dance before the pair’s eyes, merging and separating in an unending dance. The Strange Thing’s eyes gloss over.

Shael “Ah, lovely.” he praises the bard. “Excellently done, Devis.” his attention returns to the Blessed after he is sure his condecension has not gone unnoticed.

The Blessed “Back to the ooze with you!” The Blessed flings acidic arrows at Shael.

Shael Shael’s mage shield springs forth, the acid turning aside.

Julian “Damn it…” Julian limps after his friend, another healing word on his lips.

DM Ignoring the healing, the Blessed reacts defensively when Julian turns his power on her. His spear is splintered by her mental defense. It then reforms around that defense and plunges through.

Julian “Oh Tal, not this time!” Hints of mana crackle at Julian’s fingers, but he pushes back against the temptation for this time. Now is a time for breaking evil magic, not embracing it.

DM The tentacles vanish in the Light of Tal.

Kryss Kryss starts launching javelins at the blessed

DM One punches through her shoulder, causing her eyes to roll back in her head.

The Blessed “Flames of xormon dul, gullet of the dhole!”

Shael Shael waits for the salvo to finish, then approaches The Blessed. Avenger whispers as he draws it from its sheath, “Tell me the truth; did you dominate her as well?” his head tilts towards the dead woman on the ground by Devis.

Shael “What was her name?” he demands.

The Blessed The Blessed laughs. “She had seen the light! Eyes open! Name? Written in the Akashic Record, Rivani!”

Shael “And still, it was a light you showed her and the others… I cannot forgive you.” he says apologetically before stabbing with Avenger.

DM The blade catches in the woman’s mystic defenses. It barely scratches her.

Shael Shael grits his teeth and forces the blade forward, forgiveness is not something Tal is fond of, he thinks.

The Blessed “The Sphere preserves.” She breathes out, filling Shael’s nostrils with intoxicating vapors.

DM He ignores them.

Devis “Fuck your mom, Shael.” Devis really knows how to get to the heart of things.

Shael Shael frowns at Devis, “My mom’s dead.” he says, hurt.

Julian Julian turns his attention to Devis, coughing out the words of a prayer. “Remember that Tal freed you.”

DM Devis blinks, looking around in a daze. “What…what happened?”

Kryss Kryss continues throwing javelins.

Julian “Help… fight her. Save Lidda and Ember…”

DM Again, one strikes true, hitting her in the knee. It’s so hard aiming at someone on the ceiling…

Julian The paladin’s bones are slowly knitting back together and the horrible burns have begun to fade.

Shael Striking true, it takes time and concentration. Shael meditates on this, feinting and remaining aggressive to keep the Blessed on guard but truly he is casting a spell to ensure the next swing of his sword will not miss.

DM The captivating effect enthralling the Strange Thing ends with Devis’ release.

Shael The Wild, Strange Thing has no need to concentrate though – as soon as the magic releases him, he backs up and charges at The Blessed.

DM The Strange Thing’s attack shatters against her fully erect mental barrier.

The Blessed “You fools may have won this battle, but the war rages on!” The Blessed hisses a curse and steps away.

DM She is gone.

Kryss “Bitch!”

Shael “Dimension door!” he tells Julian, “It might not be over!”

Kryss “Can you track her, Shael?!”

Julian There is a flash of fear in the paladin’s eyes, but he pulls himself up and hurries over. “Tell me where.”

Shael He casts about, concentrating on his magic and through his magic on the strange domain they inhabit.

DM He finds her presence, far below, in the basement.

Kryss “Shes still here,” Kryss says, reading Shaels features.

Shael “The basement, fleeing for the portal – quickly!” He drops from the ceiling effortlessly, running to meet Julian.

Kryss Kryss chases after.

Julian “Kryss. Get the rest of them out of here… in case something goes wrong.”

DM Devis has enough time to sing a tune of flesh knitting on Julian before he and Shael port after the Blessed.

Julian Julian gasps from the pain of the mana burn as they arrive below, but he bears up against the pain.

DM They appear in the basement, where the portal is starting to open. The Blessed whips around, eyes flashing. “Burn!”

Shael Shael steps through the flames with death in his eyes, “No.” He charges across the field at the Blessed, Avenger singing for Erasmus and Estra.

Julian? Julian is hot on his friend’s heels. “Mistake, witch. You aren’t the only walker here.”

DM She flings herself away from Avenger, and Lightbringer is there to plunge through her heart. An unholy and inhuman scream sounds a death cry, and a blackened sphere falls to the ground. Avenger’s backslice takes her across the throat, and she spurts blood, but remains alive.

DM She shifts away again, but only a short distance this time. Clearly delaying the inevitable.

Julian? “Didn’t know that, did you?” The paladin’s burns partially heal even as hers are dealt.

The Blessed “A…paladin…tainted…” Blood bubbles with every word.

DM Chaos swirls, ruining Avenger’s death song.

Julian? “I’m strong enough to resist it. Master it.”

Shael A song of mourning and loss, Avenger cries even for its foes. Mavaro, a life too short, dead in madness and pain with all his potential lost. Shael follows implacably, not willing to let those deaths be in vain – he advances into the chaos.

The Blessed “Apostate” the Blessed chokes out as Julian moves in.

Julian? Lightbringer lashes out, and Julian leaves it in her guts. He seizes her hair and draws her head back, drawing a hidden black iron blade.

The Blessed She struggles feebly.

Julian? A single swift draw across the throat leaves the razor knife coated in blood.

The Blessed The blank stare on her face is one of horror. What could have frightened a woman who stared into madness on a daily basis?

DM Her death brings an end to the party’s struggles here in the Reality Wrinkle however…all that remains is to catalog the fruits of their labor and perhaps…celebrate. Join us next week for that, Loyal Readers!

The Speaker in Dreams 8
Brindinford, Goodmonth Week 1.7 BCY 14500

Session 25

DM When last we left our heroes, they had brought about the end of the grimlocks terrorizing the city’s slums. What remains for them to do now? What has their bear been up to? No doubt terrorizing school children, but read on and find out!

Julian Julian leaves Kryss and several guardsmen in charge of the grisly scene of the grimlock lair. There is other investigative work to do. He heads for Chatterstreet Market.

DM The pair follow up on endless leads all day, asking people who saw the captain, knew the captain, might have seen the captain with anyone suspicious. At the end of the day, they have confirmed that he was investigating some protection racketeering, but that trail turns up cold when it leads back to the wererat gang they decimated.

Julian Discouraged after a day’s work coming up empty, Julian turns to Shael. “Well, there’s one more lead to follow up on. This one they call The Blessed. Not sure where to find her, but I think checking out the rest of that cursed bookstore might not be a bad start.”

Shael Shael agrees. “I agree.” Shael’s steps begin to lead the duo towards the Shrine of Serra, “We should check on these two then Ember and the others – it’d be a good idea to give me time to, ah, reset as well… get ready for some more aggresive combat.”

Julian “All right. You want to bring any help? Sounds like she’s one of the most dangerous. If not THE most dangerous. Which could cut both ways with help.”

Shael “Who, Ember?” Shael inquires. “Oh, oh, um…” his expression sours mournfully and he shakes his head quickly, “Nah, we’ll fine.” he says uncertainly.

Julian “All right.” Julian on the other hand seems relieved.

DM The shrine comes into view.

Shael Shael’s tension eases slightly when he sees the shrine appearing unmolested, he enters and searches for the paladin pair.

DM Their dead and dessicated bodies lie in a heap over the alter. No wait, that fades. Was it a glimpse of the future? The pair are found in the rear chambers, Tolea ministering to Alein.

Shael His gaze lingers on the alter a moment longer. “Tolea, good you’re both allright.” Shael says, relieved. “How is Alein? Any better?”

Tolea Tolea nods. “She still cries out in her sleep, but the dreams seem to be fading.”

Shael Glancing back to the main antechamber he asserts, “Is there anywhere else the two of you can stay? I have… some concern about the security.” he pointedly does not look at Julian and also does not admit he may have been right.

Julian Julian is gracious enough to say nothing.

Tolea “We could go to Alein’s apartment. We don’t usually live at the shrine. But what concerns you? Surely Serra will protect us.”

Shael “Sometime a warning is all the protection the gods can spare…” he says, still not elaborating overmuch. “…we’ll help you, if you like? To get there.” he clarifies.

Tolea “Oh…right now?” Tolea looks around. “Um, I guess so…”

Shael Shael nods and looks over to Julian to provide one of the secret signs they haven’t invented yet expressing urgency. “What all will we need to bring?” he wonders while moving to assist Tolea.

Tolea “Um…just her clothes and armor and sword. Belongings and stuff.”

Julian Julian pitches in to help move.

Shael While gathering everything and moving the two to Alein’s apartment, Shael mentions, “The Blessed is some kind of traveler, I expect some aspect of Alein is the key to the a portal she is trying to open in the city…”

Julian “So it’s best to lay low.”

Shael Shael nods, “…we’re trying to sort things out, but I wanted to make sure you were both safe, first.”

Tolea “Well thank you. Serra’s blessing on you both.”

Shael Shael nods his appreciation, “I just wish there was more we could do.” Once the duo are situated, Shael quickly appraises the area to see if he can make it any more secure before he and Julian head towards Ember’s group and the bookstore OF DOOM! While closing in, his bond with Ojo strengthens enough that they can communicate again and he sends an update request.

DM When the pair approaches the bookstore, Ember and her group are nowhere to be seen. They recall that Lieutenant Shella mentioned that she sent a team of guards to check out the place and they’d found nothing left that was unusual there. Perhaps the trio has left to explore more exciting things in Brindinford.

Ojo Ojo puts a stop to that line of thought. They went inside. They haven’t come out. The guards went inside as well, but they did come out. The trio went in after.

Shael “They’re inside.” Shael says without preamble and breaks into a sprint.

Julian “Damn place cheats.” Julian mutters as he hurries afterwards. “Normal one minute, all fucked up the next…”

Shael Shael doesn’t stop until he’s standing inside the bookstore.

DM He does however, pause momentarily outside the bookstore. The door appears to be locked. One might even go as far as to call it…arcanely locked.

Julian “I’ll check the back.” Julian does.

DM It’s also locked. Possibly…arcanely locked.

Julian Julian conveys this finding to Shael.

Shael Shael hesitates before joining Julian. At the back door, before the resouding sound of a pounding knock, the only other noise is Shael growling. He tries the door again.

DM The door is now normal locked, thanks to the magical tricks of our heroes. Still, an impassable barrier.

Shael With a deep, long breath in and out Shael removes his lockpicks. “Patience…patience…patience…” he reminds himself.

DM No doubt Ember is thinking the same. Wherever she is. The lock clicks open with just a little bit of effort on Shael’s part. Within the bookstore, the creepy sensation lurks over them once more.

Julian Julian quickly seeks to get his bearings, aided by Shael’s magic.

DM Shael has seen Julian’s path, and refuses to allow it to be one of skulking unease at this horrific assault on the mind’s senses. Both of our heroes fight back the lurking horrors at the edge of sanity.

Shael “Now, remember…” Shael says, “…%&$((#& (^#@ !!@$…” the complex explanation of how to counteract the affects of the bookstore don’t deserve reproduction here. They mostly sound like beeps and boops and bopps once inside the bookstore anyways. Shael appraises their surroundings and shuts the door firmly behind them.

DM It’s the same creepy bookstore. Which leaves two likely possibilities for the guards. They ran and reported nothing wrong, or they came in…and got mentally ambushed by the foul denizens here. Which…leads to some disturbing possibilities for what they are up to even now.

Julian Julian glances at Shael as they have the same thought at likely roughly the same time. “Nothing for it for now. First things first.” he mutters.

Shael “I suppose it’s possible the bookstore stopped being weird just for them… they’re all mundane and such. Find the up.” he suggests and heaves to.

DM The pair wander around, aimlessly for what might be minutes or hours before realizing they’ve been in this same hallway before.

Shael “We’ve been in this hallway before.” Shael says, his frustration evident. He walks back in forth in the hallway several times as if to prove they’ve been here more than once.

Julian “Well, NOW we’ve been through it more than once. Since you keep walking back through it.”

Shael “Why are you following me?”

Julian “Because I don’t even know which parts of this place I’ve been through ONCE.”

DM Walking back and forth proves impossible. They find themselves in a sealed off room, which is also impossible, since they just entered, but the doorway is nowhere to be seen now. What is to be seen is a monster with a million mouths, burbling at them in the tongue of madness.

Shael He finally cracks a bit of a grin before opening the nearest door, “Well, this door is sure to get us someplace we’ve never been before.” turning around he freezes. “Fuck.”

DM The creature spits and hisses, but fails to harm them.

Julian Julian leaps to engage the beast.

Shael Shael darts around to flank the beast, Orcshy flashing and mirrored – two blades strike at the creature.

DM Julian’s blade cuts into the squamous mass, while Shael’s attacks are even more devastating. The creature babbles and finally overwhelms the paladin’s sanity with its mental assault.

Julian Julian rushes the wall. “Quick, Shael, this way!”

Shael Shael parries and tosses up a magical shield in defense while the illuminated magical weapon continues to hack and Orcshy continues to slice through the creature.

DM More slimy flesh is severed from the core. The damage is beginning to toll on the mouther, who mutters about the quick brown fox and starts to back off. It flails at Shael as it backs away. Nearly dead, it tries to pour itself into the wall. “RAMONA!” it cries out.

Julian “Hey, you bastard, that was my idea!” Lightbringer puts a stop to that.

DM They find an escape tunnel after slaying the mouther and move through it to find…a pool of mouthers. The creatures lurch up, no doubt holding the precise knowledge that our heroes lack to move without barrier through this house of horror. But how to impart that knowledge? Perhaps eating the mouther corpses would do the trick.

Julian This time Julian is ready for them. Seeing the numbers, he lashes out with a spell.

Shael Shael wades into the midst of them, interposing himself firmly between the monsters and his pal(adin). With each step another image of him steps away from the original until the number of Shaels matches the number of mouthers. One of the images swings an image of Orcshy at the nearest creature.

DM The power of Tal causes the mouthers to splash their bodies all over the wall. Shael’s attack cuts in on them as well. The mouthers swarm all over Shael, gnawing with gum filled mouthes. They do nothing more than destroy one of his illusory copies.

Shael With a wary insight into the future, Shael takes one hand from his sword and lets a shield spring from the ring on his hand. A blessing falls upon him and Julian as he calls out for it while another image continues to lay into the Mouthers.

DM The Voice of Tal condemns the mouthers to Limbo, while Shael’s bladework does Kly proud. The mouthers gnaw futilely at Shael, then break off to blind Julian.

Julian As the knot breaks up Julian moves from spell to blade, moving to Shael’s assistance.

DM One of the mouthers dies. Er…almost.

Shael In a puff of smoke, Shael vanishes from his precarious position and switches from blade to spell – effortlessly showing off the teamwork they’ve been practicing. Another arrow of caustic terror flies towards the sturdiest of the bunch while a sole image left behind continues to slice and dice.

DM The mouthers lurch forward as a single mass once again, spitting and snapping.

Julian Julian steps out of the converging pocket as the team’s maneuvering draws the mouthers back together, the Voice of Tal on his lips.

DM The mouthers disintegrate as it passes through them. A flash of Orcshy and it’s all over.

Shael Shael wretches and tries to whipe the gunk from his eyes and face while his magic finishes the fight for him.

Julian “Right. We need a new strategy besides wandering around this… maze.”

Shael Shael growls, “This isn’t getting us anywhere…” he approaches and kicks one of the mouthers. Hesitating he says, “Look, I could try something… but, it might be dangerous.”

Julian “Can I help?”

Shael “I’m… honestly not sure.” he explains his idea. Shael begins first by meditating while Julian sets up a temporary camp to rest for the evening; he gets an impression of his immediete surroundings and tries to extend his mystical senses further and further. Once he understands the basics of the ley lines, he uses leftover bits of Mouther – their blood, guts, viscera – to begin drawing a massive arcane sigil that takes up almost the entire

Shael room. By the time Julian has finished resting, he seems ready. “Just… keep an eye out. I honestly have no idea what is going to happen…”

Julian Not reassuring coming from Shael. Nor, honestly, is the giant sigil made of mouther parts. Julian keeps watch uneasily.

DM With Tal’s guidance, Shael plunges into the mindscape of the Reality Wrinkle. He touches a consciousness there, and probes it. It wakens to his touch, and probes back. Tal’s guidance is countered by…an elven taint, wrapping thorns of green around the white. The house begins to shake. In the mind’s eye, Shael appears dominant, but suddenly a reversal of fortune lends the master of the house more power… Still, it is not enough. Backed by his companion, Shael throws the master from his place atop the tower of iron will, and takes the throne. The Reality Wrinkle yields.

Shael Shael collapses backwards, his energy nearly exhausted. “It is done…” he says at length, “…we were successful.” He reaches an arm out to have Julian help him up.

DM With his victory, the Blessed will be coming for them. There is not much time now.

Julian The paladin pulls Shael to his feet with one strong hand, Lightbringer in the other. “Can you warn us when they’re coming?”

Shael “What do you mean? We’re going to them… that’s why you rested, eh?” He grins lightheartedly, “We got this, now I understand how we win.”

Julian “All right. Kryss, watch our backs.” The party moves out.

DM The next floor of the building contains tiny bedrooms with simple bedrolls and threadbare blankets spread on the floor, a kitchen with cupboards and counters, a table with six chairs and a privy. It appears deserted, until Shael’s connection with the Reality Wrinkle shatters the mental camouflage, revealing two cultists and their new guards…Ember and Lidda.

Ember “Don’t fight, friends. Come, experience Farness.”

Shael Shael narrows his eyes at the cultists. “Hey, friends… been a little while, how you doing?” He asks Ember and Lidda.

Julian “And where’s Devis?”

Ember “Devis serves the Blessed Mistress. We have found the Speaker, Friends, and the Speaker speaks through us.”

Lidda “Will you submit to the Union of Minds?”

JulianNOT… really interested in hearing what the Speaker has to say.”

Shael “Been rather dominating in that area, doncha think? You sure you want me in that big thinker tinkering around?” Shael whips out a wand and preempts the inevitable – is he quick enough?!

DM One of the cultists, an old lady who looks remarkably like one of those already slain, laughs. “You think you have the power? Behold, the power of fiddly bonusi!”

Julian Julian hefts Lightbringer, the overt threat covering for and distracting from Shael’s more subtle movements. “And I guess she left you to slow us down. Raw deal for you, friends.”

Shael “She’s less then a day, the hourglass is emptying.”

DM The foes seem to shrink as the distance between you grows vastly.

Julian The paladin scowls, but goes for a spear instead. The first target is the old lady who should be dead.

DM It strikes the old crone, drawing blood. She wails.

Shael As Julian advances, Shael casts a spell of entanglement upon friends and foes alike.

DM “My arm! You’ve pierced my arm!” Two bolts, one of fire and one of ice, lance out at the heroes.

Lidda Lidda rushes out and slices at Julian’s waist with her blades. “Please submit, Julian. We can be short together.”

Kryss Kryss rumbles into action to protect his small friend, not to mention his source of good luck and inspiration.

Julian Julian winces, but shakes his head. “Sorry, Lidda.”

DM The nimble warrior fails to avoid Kryss entirely, but does duck out of his way. This leaves her unfortunately open to Julian’s counter attack.

Julian Lightbringer is not a gentle weapon, even when it is not wielded to kill.

DM She crumples to the ground, unconscious.

Shael Shael paces around his friends to get a clear shot, “I’m sorry Ember. I’m sure you’ll understand when you’re back in your right mind…” a lance of ice lashes out towards her legs to hinder her movement if she gets free of the entangling brush.

DM The cultists, disregarding their minion’s safety, bear down on the heroes with their sorcerous and psionic power.

Julian Kryss just growls as one of the cultists tries to enspell him, moving to cut the fool down.

DM The short cultist squeals like a little girl as the blade cuts in.

Julian Julian follows up with thrown javelins.

DM They pin the cultist to the wall.

Shael Shael judges the distance between Ember and his allies, with a snap decision he switches to blasting the cultist behind her with fire.

DM She screams at him, scratching at his eyes from across the room.

DM Ember slips free from her bondage and runs to engage Julian.

Kryss It would be a mistake to focus on Julian over Kryss. The towering warrior moves around Ember’s flank to teach her that lesson. Then again, it would be a mistake to focus on Kryss over Julian.

Ember Ember’s fists are a blur as they snap blocks and wrist locks to avoid the lethal attacks, but in the end, she is a well trained monk and they are dragon slay…fighting heroes. She crumples in a heap as the flat of Lightbringer cracks against her skull.

Julian Julian closes in on the final foe.

DM “Surely I have something around here for spells that restrict movement…” the old lady mumbles.

Shael Shael taps his fingers against his thighs impatiently. “Um… so, this is definitely a thing.” he tries to peer about, testing the limits of the spell inhibiting him. “Nope, pitch as black. Dark, too.”

Shael “You guys need me to be all urgent or summat? Or… I could just loiter about?” He hollars.

Julian “We’ve got it.”

Shael He circles forefinger and thumb, “Splendiferous.” he asserts and rocks back and forth on his heels waiting for the spell to end.

DM “Meet the Speaker,” the old lady commands, her eyes causing a swirling vertigo inducing effect upon those around her. She looks puzzled when they fail to fall. “I said go the fuck to sleep!”

Shael “You gotta center the effect on the weaker one… and, you know… that’s probably me, eh? They’re pretty hardy boys… eat their grains and all. You guys still doing okay?” He pats around in his pockets until he rummages out what he thinks is a trail biscuit and takes a bite.

DM There are chopping sounds. It sounds…messy.

Julian “Ouch.” Shael hears from Julian. It doesn’t sound pained, though.

DM In fact, Shael is quite confident that Kryss did not bother to use the flat of his blade here. A splatter on his cheek. Is it raining in here?

Shael Shael looks at Julian curiously once his vision clears, “Fibber.” he asserts blandly as he lets the entanglement spell fade.

Julian Julian checks for anything of use.

DM In the chunks of cultist, they find a wand, ring and belt that might produce some magical power once identified. And then it is on to defeat the Blessed, True Believers! Will they pull it off, or die trying? Find out next week!

The Speaker in Dreams 7
Brindinford, Goodmonth 1.6-1.7 BCY 14500

Session 24

DM When last we left our heroes, they had crushed the wererat criminals in their bell tower hideout. Now, surrounded by rat feces and some small amount of loot, they plan their next move.

Julian The end result is that Shael is left in possession of the bell tower, to look after Gequa, while Julian makes himself scarce along with Grag and Jaksun. He heads for the town watch’s headquarters to update the Lieutenant and drop off the pair.

DM Sergeant Brox Stonehammer is on duty, as it is late afternoon. Lieutenant Shella is just about to leave as Julian approaches. The pair stare at him as he draws near.

Julian “Good afternoon, Lieutenant, Sergeant.” Julian is unfailingly polite as he always has striven to be in the Lieutenant’s presence. He quickly summarizes recent events.

Shella The lieutenant sighs. “I suppose I was…inaccurate in my assessment, then.”

DM Sgt. Stonehammer hauls the pair off to some cells.

Julian Julian grins wryly. “Hopefully solving more problems than I cause, ma’am. I have wolfsbane and silver if they would be helpful.”

Shella She grunts. “Ah, yes, inaccurate on you as well. I meant regarding the rat problem…I would have staked everything on it being transients. As far as your wares, I suppose the budget can handle a few needed purchases.”

Julian Julian waves away any talk of payment and proffers the silver rapier and two doses of wolfsbane, hanging on to one dose. “The wolfsbane was given to me freely by the temple, so it would hardly be right to charge you for it. As for the rapier, my friend Kryss might drive a hard bargain for his goods, but this isn’t his work. Took it off the head gangster.”

Shella She looks it over. “It doesn’t look like much. Real thin. And is it…silver?”

Julian “Yeah. I guess he used it to keep the rest in line. I’m hoping that once they’re recovered you can break the curse with the wolfsbane, but if they’re any trouble between now and then, you should have a silver weapon on hand. Just in case.”

Shella “Silver…hurts them, then? They won’t heal from it?”

Julian “Right.”

DM Julian is briefly reminded that most people in the region are homebodies, and rarely get out into all the trouble that his heretical self does. Many of the things he takes for granted are tall tales to those in these urban centers.

“You fucking oppressor!” “Well…thank you. That’s…ahem. Hmm. I’m headed to the Stony Gaze for a drink, would you care to join me?”

Julian “Thanks for the invitation. A drink does sound good right about now.”

DM The walk over to the Stony Gaze is a few minutes, and Shella seems to be at a slight loss for words. Once in the tavern, the pretty waitress Ahal introduces herself to them, smiling broadly. “What will you boys be having?”

Julian The paladin labors to keep up, still suffering some aftereffects of his near-undeath encounter two days ago. “What’s good?” Julian orders what’s recommended to him.

Ahal “I suggest the duck, it’s great.” Ahal sweeps off after collecting their orders. Shella self consciously runs her hand through her short hair, frowning.

DM Light music comes from a minstrel nearby, as he strums his lute.

Julian Julian leans back and tries to put her at ease, asking a few small-talk questions to break the ice – “This the usual watering hole?” and so on.

Shella “Ah, this is…the best place. Sometimes that music guy over there, Nankiy will duel with acts from out of town. Always wins.”

Julian Or about the boss. “Out in the country they said he was a just and noble man.”

Shella “The Captain was…is…wait, are you talking about the Captain or the Baron?”

Julian “Well, I heard that about the Baron, but I’m sure the Captain is a good man as well?” Julian idly notes the past tense.

Shella Shella nods enthusiastically. “He’s the best. He’s really by the book, but he manages to be a people person too. Sometimes I, er…other officers have trouble pulling that off. They either go soft or hard. Captain hits the sweet spot.” Her face screws up a little bit talking about him, almost as though she is trying to fight back tears, but that’s unlikely for this severe woman.

Julian Julian nods. “That’s a good type of man to have around. My first lieutenant was that way when I was in the cavalry. Having that kind of person makes the whole squadron better.”

Shella “Something horrible happened to him, didn’t it? I keep having these horrible nightmares…that he didn’t leave me with this clusterfuck on purpose, that he’s…” she shudders.

Julian “You’re worried about him, I can tell.” He frowns into his beer. “I don’t know what to make of it, but I’ll try to help. Not sure.” Julian’s frown into his beer grows deeper. “I’ve been having strange dreams too, since I came here. Some of them seemed disturbingly real. But I’m not sure all of them are.”

Gell At that moment, a halfling comes over to the pair with a platter of duck, roast potatoes and peppers, and a cranberry sauce. “Your dinner, good sir and ma’am.” He bows. “Gell’s finest!”

Julian “Thank you, it looks fine indeed.” Julian’s appetite has been slowly returning – there wasn’t much for the first few days.

Gell “Well, anything I can do for Tal’s Pals, just let me know, my friend in shiny armoire!”

Julian Julian grins. “Tal’s pals, is it? Thanks, friend, I will.” He glances at the Lieutenant once their server has retreated again. “Did word of that business with Alein and the bookstore a few days ago reach you? I guess it must have by now.”

Shella Shella nods. “It wasn’t the clearest, but I sent some men by the bookstore. They came back and said there was nothing wrong with the place. Whoever was there must have packed up and left.”

Julian Julian nods. “Well, I mention it because you mentioned dreams. I’ve been having dreams. Squirm, the leader of those wererats, while we were fighting he kept talking about dreams. Some bandits tried their luck against us on the road and they talked about dreams. And at that bookstore, the Reality Wrinkle, Alein was lost in bad dreams. And that sorcerer Jellek couldn’t shut up about it.”

Shella “…you think the dreams are…real?”

Julian “I don’t know whether they’re true. But there’s something real about them, I do think that. And it seems certain that the different parts of this… clusterfuck, you say… didn’t happen on their own. Something in the middle causing all of them.”

DM An elfmarked man enters with a slightly burnt lute. He exchanges some words with Nankiy and the two begin dueling on their lutes. Nankiy’s clear and rich voice somehow does not immediately overpower the low and raspy tones of the newcomer.

Shella Shella blows out air towards her bangs. “This sort of thing is what the Captain was good at…piecing together separate issues to make a complete puzzle.”

Julian Julian refrains from stating the inference that this might be why someone made sure he was out of the way. “Well, my friends and I have a way of getting to the bottom of puzzles too.” Not necessarily via carefully piecing them together as much as hacking them apart, sometimes, admittedly. “I have faith that we’ll get to the bottom of this one.”

Nankiy “Fire on the mountain, run boys run!” Nankiy sings. The crowd stamps their feet along with the talented bard. Shella nods. “Well…I trust you. You’re…not like the other adventurers I’ve met.”

Julian “Thanks. I have a feeling I might need your help before it’s all through. But to get back to piecing puzzles together… where’s the noble and just Baron been during all this mess? The country folk couldn’t speak highly enough of him.”

Shella “He’s supposed to make a speech for the fair pretty soon. His sister has been doing most of the organizing these days though.”

Julian “Can’t they send reinforcements from their household? Help keep the law while things are so busy?”

Shella “Ah, the town guard and the house guard are sort of the same group,” Shella confesses. In the background, the challenger bard begins singing of the great and ancient Lady Durnsay, although his song appears to skip the part where she was burned as a witch. “We don’t have the manpower to have separate guards.”

Julian “Ah, damn, you really are flat out then.” Julian’s foot taps slightly to the music… devil’s in the house of the rising sun…

Shella “Yeah, we generally assign the best men to the keep.”

Julian “Ah, well…” Julian spends some time in thought as he digs into the duck.

Elfmarked Bard “Can you take me high enough….can you fly me over, Dur-urn-say…” the raspy throated bard sings on, holding the crowd spellbound.

Julian Julian asks a few more questions as they finish up dinner. He’s seeking a starting point on the Captain and any information on the murders he might have missed, though eventually it winds down to smaller talk or listening to the music.

DM The murders occurred in Southspur, while Chatterstreet Market was the last known whereabouts of the Captain. The murders seemed to have no pattern at all, though they were confined to a relatively small area.

Shella “It might honestly be a nest of some sort of…monster,” Shella confides.

Julian “Might be. I’ll take Kryss down when I go. He’s strong as hell, a solid man to have at your back when there’s monsters to slay. If a bit brusque.”

Shella “I hope he’s strong, as big as he is. Reminds me of Hargg.”

Julian “Oh?”

DM The door opens and a hulking man ducks under the doorway. He looks around, sees Shella, and for a brief moment, his face seems to smile. Then he notices Julian next to her and the moment ends. He moves over towards the pair. “What?” he demands of Julian.

Julian “Hello. Hargg, I guess? I’m Julian.”

Hargg He’s probably a few inches shorter than Kryss, but just as wide. The blade he carries is larger. He frowns at the pair. “I work. Here. I see.”

Shella Shella huffs. “Hargg, I told you, it’s not going to work out. You have to stop this.”

Julian Julian raises an eyebrow and wonders if he should stand up.

DM At that moment, Gell calls from across the bar, and Hargg gives a forlorn look to Shella, a half angry one at Julian, and moves away.

Julian “Yeah, he does kind of remind you of Kryss.” Julian relaxes. Not wanting to spend the entire evening on talking business and other cheerless manners, he makes smaller talk for a while. Wouldn’t do to leave the Stony Gaze having heard about everything except Lieutenant Shalla herself.

Shella Shella is a native of Brindinford, born and raised. Joined the guard as soon as she was old enough. Her parents died several years back.

Ahal Ahal comes over several times to check on them. Each time she makes some implication that she is serving two men.

Julian After the third or fourth time it earns a raised eyebrow.

Shella Shella just appears embarassed. Ahal does have a bit of a foreign accent to her voice, but nothing so severe that it would explain a real mistake.

Julian The paladin decides to shrug it off. “Well, thanks for showing me a good place.” he stretches out his legs as the last of the meal is cleared away – and he puts the coin on the table regardless. “If the monster doesn’t get me I might have to come back.”

Shella Shella smiles. “I’d like that.” She blushes as she realizes he said he would come back to the bar, not with her. “Er, I mean…it’s good a good place.”

Julian “Good company, too.” Julian smiles. “See you next time, then?”

Shella Her eyes sparkle. “Yes! Yes. I would…I already said that. Have a good night, Julian. Thank you.”

Julian Julian heads off into the evening with a spring in his step. At least briefly. Till the pain of the mana burn reasserts itself. Nevertheless, he hobbles cheerfully towards murder. As night looms, one of the arrangements they make is for a bed and a rest before poking around one of the most dangerous parts of town.

DM The Stony Gaze has rooms, as does the Shield and Shingle.

Shael Shael follows Julian’s lead once he’s caught up, having been handling quite different affairs earlier in the evening.

Julian Murder seems much more approachable after a good night’s sleep. Julian is still limping, but his hands are barely shaking at all any more.

Meanwhile, previously…

Shael Shael rings out a cloth dampened by warm water, different than the one he’s been using to clean up the place, and places it on Gequa’s forhead while allowing another small dose of healing energy to waft through her body like a gentle breeze.

DM The female wererat comes to, she’s in her human form currently, and she rubs the spot where the silver blade pierced her chest tenderly.

Shael “Good morning, Gequa.” Shael says soothingly, “I am Shael, I hope you’re feeling better?”

Gequa “How long was I out?” she asks, looking around. “What happened?”

Julian Julian is off keeping an eye on Squirm. Hard for Gequa to say how long she was out, but the paladin seems to be back. (Or maybe he hasn’t left yet?)

Shael “Ah, I’ve been cleaning up a bit.” he says, looking around at the much more spic-n-span clocktower. “I’d say it’s been a few hours, maybe? Got a bit of a prick; not t’worry. You’ll be about in no time.”

Gequa “You’re not really a rat.” She sniffs a few times. “I didn’t notice it before in the excitement. But you smell all wrong. Are you even human?”

Shael “I’m not.” he agrees, “And, I must apologize for the deception.” with a bow of his head, he seems genuinly contrite. “Human? Ah, well probably, yes. Some of the details are fuzzy.” he grins. “What about you? Are you happy with who you are, Gequa?”

Gequa “What sorta question is that?” she frowns.

Shael “The same sort as yours, a bit more depth than aquaintances should expect and a mite more personal than strangers might tolerate. But, we could be friends… if you think you might like that.” he shrugs and holds out his hand for the washcloth.

Gequa “You talk funny,” she hands him the cloth, “but you saved my life. It made sense when I thought you were a rat, but you ain’t. Why you wanna be friends with me? You ain’t some…pervo or something?”

Shael “A human wouldn’t save a rat’s life, eh?” He chuckles but it fades quickly into a grimace. To give himself a moment of thought, he stands from the stool beside the makeshift bed and goes to dampen the cloth again. Returning to her side, he folds the cloth carefully and then hands it to her, “I’m the sort that wishes the world was better – nicer. I’m just one man, but if that was a reason to give up… well, nothing would ever get done.” he shrugs uncomfortably. “You are looking for change, there is a chance that I could provide that. A different world for you to live in, one more to your preference… one that is not quite so harsh that it requires you to prey upon others.” He smiles comfortingly, “I would not judge those actions, I know that in this world they can be necessary… but, if it is in my power to make them unecessary…”

Gequa “Hey, hey, hey! I don’t gotta pray to no one, no how!” Gequa bursts out. “I’m an ay-thee-iz.”

Shael Shael chortles heartilly, “If that is your most pressing concern, I think we’ll get along quite well… no, my concern is in spreading lycanthropy without the consent of the recipient of your blessing. I’d like to curtail the thieving and extortion as well, but as I said… I am only one man.”

Gequa Her face puckers as she thinks about it. “I’ll stop exhorting people. And I’ll only bite for serious. Or fun. But you can’t expect a girl to stop stealin! How am I supposed to earn an honest living?”

Shael “Information is a valuable comodity. Enough so that it might put you in more comfortable fur than even the moon allows.” he motions to the building that they’re in, “This is an ideal location for that sort of operation, too… shielded from casual observation. How did you manage that, by the way? But, in truth, so long as the mark is not worse off than you – theft is not so ignoble, I think.” he shrugs expressing uncertainty.

Gequa “Information is vailable enough to who? You? Are you gonna pay me?”

Shael “I am uncertain, I haven’t decided how valuable information is to me… at least, information from this berg. But, if we were friends, I’m certain I could find an arrangement… or create it if it does not yet exist. Can you read and write? Or, are you willing to learn?”

Gequa “I know some letters, and I can learn others. I’m not some dumb bimbo, you know. I’m spectible.”

Shael He smiles brightly, “And, are you interested?” he inquires, leaning forward with anticipation.

Gequa “Well, you ain’t my usual type, but I spose so. Wait, you mean about letters. Yeah, yeah.”

Shael Standing up, he claps his hands together loudly, “Thrilling! Can you walk? Let’s go buy you something pretty. We’ve a party to crash and your first test to ace!”

Gequa “Ok. Are you going to buy me a pretty dress? And necklace? Or just one?”

Shael Tilting his head to the side he wonders, “I don’t know, is that the sort of thing you like?”

Julian “Hey Shael.” Julian is at the door. “Think we should settle up here before we run off?”

Shael Shael’s head swivels around, “Oh, huh, yes I suppose.” he furrows his brow and glances back at Gequa thoughtfully.

Gequa “If I’m sposed to be fancy and putting on bears ‘nsuch, I probably need ten bracelets and three necklaces and some of those panties that aren’t really panties with the air underneath, and a dress…”

Shael He glances at Julian as if to seek confirmation of this new intel.

Julian “If you need to get moving, I can ask any questions you have for you, I guess…” He looks quizzically at Gequa.

Shael Shael nods sagely, “Yes, yes, certainly.” it’s unclear who he’s answering, he still seems to be pondering. “Squirm is still alive.” he mentions to Gequa, “We’ll need to speak with him, we’re interested in learning more about the lady who visited him. Want to come along for a visit before we go shopping?”

Gequa “No. I hate him and I will kill him as soon as I can. I will melt silver over his head while he sleeps. No, wait, I’ll make him eat silver coins until his stomach esblodes. No, I’ll tie his tail to the bells and ring them until he dies.”

Julian “Your taste in women is as mystifying as ever, Shael.” Julian murmurs wryly. “Come on, let’s find out what he knows.”

Shael Shael frowns thoughtfully and nods, “I’ll be right back.” he says to Gequa.

Gequa “No, I’m going to tie bags of silver to his feet and drown him in the river!”

Shael Following Julian to their prisoner, “Certainly some useful insight… force-feeding him silver coins, very creative.” he says, invoking the spell to detect Squirm’s thoughts just before coming into view of the rat. “What are we going to do with him, though?” he asks Julian in full view of the prisoner while probing the creature’s mind.

Julian “Depends what he says. I do have another dose of wolfsbane.”

Shael With another sage nod Shael inquires, “So, what do you have to say?”

Squirm Squrim snarls. “You ain’t going to make me talk.”

Shael “Talk about what?” Shael inquires with a small smile.

Squirm “About what I was doing, about my dreams, about anything.”

Julian Julian flips a silver coin idly while Shael talks, letting his friend play the good cop.

Shael “About what you were doing?” Shael asks, again guiding Squirm’s thoughts so that he can pick them clean of useful information.

DM He gets an image of a hooded figure.

Squirm “I was taking over this town.”

Shael “Taking over the underground, you mean – who you gotta fight to control the town? In’t your gang the only one ’round?”

Squirm “We are now. Had to fight for it before, but it’s easier when they can’t do shit to you.”

Shael “So what’s left to take? And how’re you so certain you can take it?”

Squirm “Wait, what? I…look, you guys are either going to kill me or jail me. I’m not stupid.”

DM The image of a face in his mind.

Julian “What about this woman? What about these dreams?” Julian is more curt.

Shael Shael purses his lips and lets Julian take the lead, he walks around behind Squirm and out of his field of vision.

Squrim The image sharpens in Shael’s mind. “She ain’t going to let me talk. Or anyone.”

Julian “And just how is she going to stop you?”

Shael Shael glances up at Julian with a wry expression. Certainly his companion remembers how the last prisoner was stopped.

Squrim “I dunno. She just is.” The image in Shael’s mind’s eye seems to blur and swirl.

Julian “Well, if you aren’t saying who she is, how about what she wants?”

Squrim “It wouldn’t matter if I did tell you though. She’s got magic and could blast you apart.” Squirm’s nose twitches, a tiny droplet of blood falls from the nostril.

Julian “Give me something I can use, Squirm, you’re clever enough. You can think of a way around it.”

Shael “She’s being more subtle than the last one.” Shael informs Julian, “In seconds, he won’t even remember her.” he sighs and asserts, “I wonder how much else he’ll have forgotten. Squirm, this is your last chance – I won’t be able to save you after this.” he comes around to face him, “Help me help you.”

Squrim “She ain’t right, man. I don’t even know what I would say about ‘what she wants’. Some shit about a portal.”

Julian “Where is she?”

Shael Shael nods, “Enough.” he commands, calling upon the forbidden magic to seal Squirm’s mind.

Squrim “Gonna step through to the dimension beyond…” Squirm pauses as the forbidden magic seals his mind.

Julian Julian glances at Shael. “Who do you think she is?”

Squrim The blood dries up, and Squirm blinks. “I think she’s a…’walker.”

Shael Shael nods ever so slightly, but his concentration remains unbroken as he does what he can to protect Squirm’s mind from assault.

Julian “Like the mages of old? Step from city to city in the blink of an eye?”

Squrim “Yeah. And I think she wants to be one of the worldwalkers.”

Julian “No way to know where she is, then. Next best thing. Where’s this portal?”

Shael Shael steps back and considers this news thoughtfully.

Squrim “Within the Wrinkle.” Squirm blinks, the voice that spoke those words did not sound like his at all.

Julian “Figures.” Julian frowns. A few smaller leads to follow up on, too – he asks Squirm what he might know about the captain or the murders.

Squrim “We didn’t touch the captain, honest! He was poking around into our stuff, but he disappeared on his own! And it weren’t us in Southspur either. We don’t go there. Ain’t nothing good to steal, they’re so damn poor.”

Julian “All right, then. No… wait. One more thing. Back to this woman. Is she the Speaker in Dreams?”

Squrim “She is…the Blessed. She hears the dreams.”

Julian “And who speaks!?”

Squrim Squirm shrugs helplessly. “She talks to herself.”

Shael Shael chuckles with amusement.

Squrim “Look, I can see I’ve been scammed. She sends me these dream messages then shows up talking about hearing the dreams…I didn’t think I could fall for a confidence game, but she was playing me like a puppet.”

Julian “All right. I believe you. And cooperation isn’t worth nothing. Way I see it, it’s earned you a fair shot at making it through this. Wolfsbane instead of the fire.”

Shael Shael nods, “Acceptable.” he agrees.

Squrim “What the hell, man? That shit’s poison!”

Julian “It is. And you might live through it, with help, but the rat won’t.”

Squrim Squirm starts panicking, shaking his head. “No, man, you don’t understand, it isn’t like that!”

Shael “What is it like?” Shael inquires, holding his hand for Julian to wait.

Squrim “Look man, you want to kill me, do it clean with that sword of yours, but don’t…don’t pump me full of that. Burn me from the inside out.”

Shael “We want you to live – but we cannot chance your infection spreading beyond control. It is an infection, isn’t it?”

Squrim “I was born to rats, I wasn’t bitten. We ain’t a disease, man.”

Shael Shael nods, “When you are born, yes… and that changes things drastically.” to Julian the mage says, “He is a magical being, I cannot allow harm to come to him.”

Squrim “It ain’t magic, man!” Squirm sounds offended.

Shael “Unless it is absolutely necessary, that is… but, it isn’t. I can arrange for him to be taken into custody for protection at a secure location where he cannot do any harm, is this acceptable to you?”

Julian Julian shifts, uncomfortable about discussing the topic in front of someone else. “Oh?”

Shael Glancing at Squirm he asserts, “If it isn’t, than your life means significantly less to me. Are you sure it isn’t magic?”

Squrim Squirm looks like a scared deer. Caught between a rock and hard place, he shrugs. “I…I ain’t sure about nothing anymore.”

Shael With a sigh, Shael relents. “Look, Squirm.. this is what I know:” he holds up fingers as he illustrates each point, “1) You can’t stay in this city anymore, dead or alive you’ve got to go. 2) You’ve a powerful, mad traveler you just gave up whose reaction to that even I couldn’t predict, and 3) There is a place that won’t judge what you are, that will instead be fascinated by you, and where you will be safe.” smiling gently he asks, “What consequence do you prefer? I leave the decision to you.”

Julian “They didn’t start the burnings for nothing, Shael. You and I know what we know, but even so…” Julian frowns. “But. You do what you think is best. And if he preys on anyone again, I’ll do what I think is best.”

Squrim Squirm swallows. “I guess I could stay in a safe place until things cool off for awhile.”

Shael “I’m not doing what I think is best, I’m doing what’s right. A seed cannot grow without nourishment, a field not tended will remain fallow.” he looks at Squirm and nods, “Stay here, then.” the mage says, ignoring his bonds, “I’ll make the arrangments.” Collecting Gequa, the two head out into the night. It quickly becomes apparent that the sort of party Shael intended to infiltrate won’t be available tonight, but he still asks around to find a seamstress capable of dressing a spy-er, a Lady!-for any occasion.

Gequa Gequa quickly proves herself a lady of unpickable taste, as she describes it. She never passes up three pieces of jewelry when one will do, and enjoys caking makeup on thick enough to float down the river on.

Shael At some point in the night, Shael slaps a make-up brush out of her hand. “You’ll have to get used to someone else doing that for you.” he reminds her gently, “We’ll find a suitable maid next, until then don’t fret. You look fine.”

Julian Shael soon catches up, after making the arrangements. After rendezvous with Shael and Gequa, he leads the way towards murder once again. At least briefly. Soon he’s overtaken and following the way towards murder.

DM Though the fair really does not extend much into this neighborhood, at least one group of entertainers has decided to set up a stage in Southspur, hoping to find an attentive audience. Prancing about in the back of a wagon, a trio of actors are engaged in a lame farce, though the object of their lampooning is not immediately obvious. Passerby slow their pace for a moment, watching, then shake their heads and move on. Suddenly, the back curtain of the stage is torn open to reveal a massive, gray skinned humanoid with wild black hair and no eyes. It lifts an axe high over its head, apparently savoring the screams of terror this produces, while more of its kind spill onto the stage and surrounding street.

Shael “I don’t get it.” Shael asserts, tilting his head to the side, “What’s the joke?”

DM The other creatures are carrying what appear to be clubs fashioned from human femurs, and quickly hack into the performers. The massive axe cleaves the lead performer in half, and another one of the creatures smashes the brains out of one of the actresses.

Shael “Oh, gawsh, wow… that almost looks like real blood!” Shael asserts, fascinated. “How do they do that??”

Julian “That’s because it IS real blood, Shael!”

Shael “…oh…” He hesitates for only an instant before rushing into the fight, drawing Orcshy and sprinting into the thick of things.

DM One of the creatures is decapitated before it can move.

Julian Julian hobbles after him. Unable to close the distance quickly, he hurls a javelin straight at the leader. Maybe if he gets their attention they will come to him.

DM The monster never sees the missile coming, but it grunts as the javelin strikes. People scream in the streets and try to flee. The monsters converge, not trying to seek out any particular threat, but instead focusing entirely on those moving bodies proximate to them. One swings its club with a killing blow at the last remaining actor, only to have it strike a prop on the shitty stage. The others mob Shael, drawing some blood from the mage.

Shael Shael adopts a defensive posture, pulling out his shield and holding Orcshy in just one hand as he awkwardly parries and adroitly blocks attacks made against him.

Julian Julian unsheathes Lightbringer as he closes in. The sword comes around, then back.

DM The creature falls in two, the magical sword doing its deadly work. The mob surrounding Shael beats on him, as he wards off attacks. A bone club slips through, clipping him on the jaw.

Shael Shael touches his foot against one of the dying actors subtly channeling a spell to save them; it takes him off balance but that luckilly saves him from the worst of the blow that breaches his defense.

Julian Julian moves in on the leader harassing Shael.

DM As the woman’s crushed skull stops bleeding, Julian’s attack brings down the leader. A cut across his thigh sends him to one knee, a brutal thrust through the skull finishes him off. The remaining creatures continue to fight to the death, although their leader’s death has seemed to rob them of their morale. They fail to harm our heroes.

Shael “Oh, you made it.” Shael exhorts Julian, “Wicked.” he drops his shield beside the woman he saved and puts both hands around the hilt of Orcshy to bring it around in a lightning quick slash against his assailant.

DM The creature falls, blood spraying from a severed artery.

Julian “Sorry, it still burns pretty bad.” Julian moves to surround the final foe.

Shael Shael waves it away, a bit of the creatures blood spattering off into the crowd as Julian dispatches the final foe, “Pish-posh, all’s well, m’friend.”

DM Surround is a poor word to describe what happens to this would-be killer. His ruined body topples off the stage and into the street with a squishing sound that implies any remaining organs are non-functional at this point.

Julian “Suppose so.” Julian looks in on the two victims.

DM They have a few coins in their pockets, but not much of value.

Julian “Think we found our killers?”

Shael After cleaning his blade, Shael sheaths it on his back and recovers his shield. “The gent’s had it…” he mourns, “…but, I think I saved the gal. You want a go, or I’ll handle it so’s they don’t see.” he whispers as he kneels beside Julian. “Don’t think so.” he postulates.

Julian “I can handle it. Your stuff’s more useful here, best save it.” Julian mutters. He performs the paladinly miracle of laying on of hands.

DM The unwounded actor rushes the pair. “Unbelievable! You saved me!” As the actress lifts her head and looks around groggily, his eyes bulge. “Saved us!”

Shael Shael stands and raises his hands, drawing as much attention to himself as he’s able, and calls: “ARE ALL WELL AND NONE ELSE INJ…?” he flinches as someone from nearby rushes him.

DM The crowd surges on the heroes. “Did you see them? Rushed right in, not a second’s hesitation…that guy looks like someone in the cavalry…dark swordsman…owe our lives…”

Julian “Guess it was lucky we were coming along just now… Easy, miss, that was a bad blow you took.” Julian winces. Looks like these actors were hard off before losing their set and a third of their crew.

Shael “Well, yeah…” Shael asserts, surprised the man is surprised. The surging crowd doesn’t make him any less uneasy.

DM “My hero!” she throws her arms around Julian’s neck and plants a large kiss on him. At that moment Lieutenant Shella and another guardsman come running in.

Crowd “Where’d you get that sword…never seen anything like it…my uncle said you fight like Klysandral…is that a holy sword…is that a goblin sword…is that a giant knife?”

Julian Julian blushes as he helps her up. “Okay, …what? Yes, it’s a holy sword… little space for the lady, please…”

Crowd “He healed that guy. Get your sick aunt, run before they leave…I knew them years ago…”

Julian He looks to Lieutenant Shella for help as the crowd presses in.

Shella “Alright, clear out, folks! Back to the fair, we’ve got a job to do here,” Shella awkwardly disperses the crowd.

Crowd “Why don’t they have eyes…they have eyes, dumbass…the dead things not the heroes…”

Julian Speaking of the things without eyes…

Shael Shael smiles awkwardly and seems to look for a way to escape the crowd, but the sick aunt catches his ear. He frowns, “You don’t fetch a sick woman, we’ll go to her.” he hops off the stage and stalks towards where he heard that from.

Julian Julian flips over the leader with his boot, staring at its face. “What the hell are these?” he mutters. “It was killing people pretty well for something that can’t see.”

Shella “Myrddraal,” Lt. Shella states confidently. “I’m sure of it.”

DM Shael is led to the home of the sick aunt.

Julian “Huh. That’s some type of monster, I guess? You were right about that.”

Shella “Yeah. The no eyes is a dead give away.”

Shael Once they reach the home he wipes his feet and waits for permission before entering, “What’s wrong with her?” he asks while being led along.

DM “She’s old,” her brother observes.

DM “It’s her hip, it’s been bothering her for awhile now. Especially with this past winter getting colder.”

Julian “I wonder if that’s all of them or not. Hey, you didn’t see how they got near, did you? Where they came from?” This to the two actors.

Shael With a sad sigh Shael promises, “We may not be able to help… but, I will do what I can.”

DM The aunt coughs feebly. “Ok.”

Shael “What’s your name? I’m Shael.” he says with a comforting smile while he reaches out to take her hand.

DM The actors shake their head at Julian. “Came…from…behind.”

DM “Jemima,” the old lady responds, taking his hand.

DM “People’ve been killed in dark alleys, other times entire families were slaughtered in their homes,” someone informs Julian.

DM “No one ever really saw what was doing it.”

DM “Plenty of locations in the area could hide a band of monsters. There are abandoned warehouses, deserted homes, that sort of thing,” an old man tells Julian confidentally.

Shael “Jemima? I knew a lass by that name once – a sweet one, full of heart.” He says with a grin, “Now, close your eyes, Jemima. I want you to remember when you were happiest and hold that memory in mind. Tell me what you remember?”

DM “I…it was the day the riverboat came into town for the first time. Carrying Ben. He was so tall and handsome. I fell in love with him and I was just seven years old.”

Julian Julian asks a few more questions of the actors, until he and the Lieutenant are satisfied they have nothing to reveal. “All right. Best you get off the streets then. Here, take these.” A few golden coins. “After that I guess you could use a warm meal and a warm bed, and a marker for your friend. I’m sorry we couldn’t help him.”

Julian He glances at the other informants. “I guess these things could have done it. Let’s take a look around, Lieutenant?”

Actress “You’re sorry? What could you have done? Thank you so much for saving me! And my brother,” she adds pointedly.

Shella Shella chews her lip distractedly while the actress chats Julian up, but nods once he turns to business. “Let’s.”

Shael His smile broadens, “A fine memory, full of love and hope. Hold onto that, always.” he stands and pulls her gently towards her feet, “Is it any better?”

Julian Julian searches for clues after extricating himself from the rescuees.

DM Aunt Jemima blinks as Shael’s healing energy flows into her. “Oh. Oh my. Thank you, Son. Bless your heart.”

Shael Chuckling joyfully, Shael pulls her into a hug. “Of course, Jemima. I’m glad for the opportunity to be of service… be well, please? I’ve to go, we’re here to stop the killings… make the world a little safer, I hope.”

DM She nods, happy at the small increase in comfort he has brought her, and lets him go. Meanwhile, for Shella and Julian the trail has led back to an abandoned boarded up warehouse. It ends abruptly under the window in the southern portion of the east wall, the only window in the building that is not boarded over. Under the open window, a raised platform, fifteen feet square, stands about seven feet off the floor in the corner of this vacant warehouse. The stench of rot and decay fills the place, while dust and scraps of wood litter the floor below. I mean, it could be the place. Hard to say, really.

Julian Could this be the place? Julian wonders. If it is the place, Shael is probably about to show up again.

Shael Gequa and Shael catch up just as they finish all the hard work, “What’ve you found.” he asks, appearing quite suddenly.

Julian “Trail leads here. As for what’s inside…”

Shella “We think it’s the place,” Lt. Shella adds.

Shael “Wait, who’s she?” Shael asks Julian. “Wait, who’re you?” Shael repeats to Lt. Shella.

Shella “I am the law.”

Shael “Oh, thrilling. That’s either comforting or ominous, I suppose we’ll find out in time.” he says brightly.

Julian “Hey, Kryss, watch our backs, will you? I don’t want any of these sneaking up behind us when we’re in there.” Julian listens before trying the door.

Shael Shael unsheaths Orcshy while attempting to brush some of the dried up, flakey monster blood from his outfit.

Julian (Or the window, as the case may be)

DM Julian hears some muffled shuffling from within the building. Something is down there, although it is only just barely possible to even detect that it is from this range, let alone what it is.

Julian He glances to his friends, signaling them to be alert, and heads in.

Shael Shael follows directly behind Julian, a bit less alert – maybe even casual.

DM The window leads to a short drop onto the aforementioned platform. Within the deserted warehouse is a bonefield of half corpses and skeletons.

DM Two of the eyeless creatures, ‘Draal’ as Shella is calling them for short, charge.

Julian Julian steps into the first’s charge, meeting it with Lightbringer.

DM It dies, shrieking. The shrieks are echoed up through the crude piping in the warehouse.

Shael Gequa waits for Shael to advance, which he does – the mage vaults over the detrious and slips around behind the Draal to slash at him with Orcshy. The wererat then tries to follow after him and nail the beast with a flank.

DM His victim gasps as the blade withdraws from its chest. A silence momentarily settles over the room. The echoed shrieks continue to bounce back and forth.

DM The shrieks grow louder until a trap door opens on the floor, and more of the draals pour forth.

Shael “Convenient.” Shael blesses their luck and prepares to meet the advancing horde.

DM One of them does not hold the bone clubs of the typical draal, but instead a pair of axes. Even the light of Julian’s blade seems to dim when she moves. In the darkness, the true killer strikes. Gequa doesn’t have time to scream. One of the bone clubs connects soundly with Julian’s shin.

Shella “Damn it! Kryss, knock down that wall! Get some light in here!” Shella snaps.

Julian Somewhere in the darkness, Julian’s voice is raised in prayer. A light steadily grows around him.

Felga The darkness that shrouds the leader of the draal is driven back, revealing the dead and stiffened body of Gequa. Blood drips off the draal leader’s axes. She grins, made all the more horrifying from her lack of eyes. “The Speaker wants you gone…and you’ve come to us.”

Kryss Kryss makes his presence felt with a roar as he rushes the revealed assassin.

Shael Shael growls, “If he ever stops talkin’, he’ll hear your death rattle.” Orcshy is replaced by Sunstrider and shield, the former of which is casually whipped through the nearest assailant while Shael puts the wall at his back.

Felga She fights back against Kryss, though the giant draws blood from her in a rage that would have burried any one of her thugs.

Shael As he steps back, an image of Avenger slices through the Drall that flanked Gequa.

DM His opponent staggers, blood pooling at its feet as the shadows attack the other killer. Both of them are near death.

Shella Shella bulls through the warehouse to put the nearer one down, then backs off again, eyeing the assassin warily.

DM Her foe drops. The three remaining villains converge on Kryss, seeking to slay the massive warrior. Poison blazes through his veins, sapping his power.

Shael Shael directs the spectral form of avenger against another foe and then raises a shield of faith before stepping towards the melee and calling out, “Your enemies will pound upon the door of your defenses, but only you shall have the key, and it is the key of life.”

DM Avenger claims its victim.

Julian Julian works to protect Kryss’s flanks so that the big warrior can focus on the true foe.

DM The last of the rank and file falls to Lightbringer.

Julian Shella rattles off another crossbow bolt, tracking the assassin. “Damn…”

Felga It catches the blind assassin in her back. She whirls. “The Speaker wants you gone.”

Kryss Just in time for Kryss. He roars in pain and rage.

Shael “You’ll catch it if you leave us behind.. catch it hard, lass. Won’t hear nothin’ th’speaker has t’say no more.” he warns, “Best stick with this fight where you gotta chance.”

Felga “You care for it and it stands in his way. Dead twice.” She flips away from the group surrounding her towards Shella.

DM Her smaller ax catches in the guardswoman’s armor. She looks up as Julian moves in.

Julian Crates and debris are crushed as Julian rushes to Shella’s defense.

DM Lightbringer cuts through her evil visage as she moves her axe too slowly in defense. The blade flares as bright as the sun for a brief moment and when its light has dimmed, the villain lies dead, her sightless face blank.

Julian Julian takes a deep breath. “You all right? Kryss?” No need to ask about Gequa.

Shella Shella lets out her own breath, shakily. “Are…are they all gone?”

Shael Shael watches her fall without pity, that is saved for the werelass. Without preamble, he cures the poison Kryss is suffering and allows more healing magic to flow through the giant and himself before kneeling before Gequa.

Kryss Kryss looks at his wounds. “I have had more painful blisters on my ass from sitting too long. You worry like a human.”

Julian Julian looks around. “Maybe. We’ll make sure.”

Shael “We will.” Shael promises grimly.

Julian “Ha. I guess so.” he replies to Kryss, but the paladin isn’t in a bantering mood. He looks around at the carpet of skeletons. “Damn, they killed a lot of people…”

Kryss Kryss frowns at Gequa’s corpse. “Armor would have prevented her from dying. It is foolish to go so bare into a battle.”

DM A locked chest underneath the stairs holds the treasure of these foul villains. Three hundred gold, a black pearl worth twice that, a ring of force shield, and pages torn from a spellbook. The pages contain the enlarge, shield, tongues, hold person and phantom steed spells, or so they discover after they’ve read through them.

DM A pittance of treasure and for what? What awaits our heroes now? Find out next week!

The Speaker in Dreams 6
Brindinford, Goodmonth 1.5-1.6 BCY 14500

Session 23

DM When last we left our heroes, they were escorting two beleaguered knights to safety, having escaped the dizzying madness of the Reality Wrinkle. Will they succeed in rescuing these unlikely damsels, or will the insane masters of the bookstore spell their doom? Read on and find out!

Shael Shael walks alongside the knights, plodding along pensively. Occasionally he says something comforting to the elder paladin.

DM Alein mutters to herself, only half aware where she is.

DM A mental bolt explodes the ground in front of them.

Shael Shael jumps in front of the others protectively and looks around for the attackers.

DM On the roof nearby, two more cultists flank Jellik, who seems slightly recovered from his wounds. A purplish wyste explodes forth from the angle between the building and street.

Julian “Someone wants their victim back?” Julian draws steel. “Torea, get Alein out of the line of fire. A battlefield is no place for her in this state.”

Jellik “You cannot escape Madness so easily, fools!”

DM One of the cultists, an elderly creepy looking lady, cackles. “You’ll feed my dear departed husband tonight, pretties!”

Julian “Who says we’re running, Jellik? We beat you once you off once, and we’ll do it again!” Julian’s eyes flash.

DM “The Blessed won’t let you go, hee hee!”

Shael Shael smiles jauntilly, “Aw, they missed us, Julian…” his advance is dauntingly quick, “…I’ll go give’m a hug o’ welcome.” He leaps into the air, easilly clearing 2/3s the height of the building, but not quite reaching the roof. He clings to the side and attempts to carry himself the rest of the way.

DM The buildings are not difficult to scurry up.

JulianYOU let ME go.” Julian’s eyes flash darker now, fingers twitching to release pent-up power. “You won’t escape me this time.”

DM The two cultists take the brunt of it, the power shattering the old lady’s hip like a stray peanut on the bar floor. Jellik sways back, giggling through his drool, although the effort of avoiding the blast causes his nose to drip blood like a faucet.

Julian Kryss hurls a throwing axe at the laughing madman.

DM A thought shield forms around the man, blocking the axe. The wyste moves in and snatches Kryss. Mental bolts lash out from the two cultists, in heedless disregard for their own life. Jellik slips his mind tendrils into Shael’s consciousness. And Shael kicks them right the fuck back out.

Shael Shael smirks, “I’ve been doing you the courtesy of respecting your mental power; I’d appreciate the same in turn, Jello.”

Jellik “It’s Jellik! Jello doesn’t even make sense when that isn’t a food stuff in this world! No one but me even gets the insult!”

Shael “I don’t even get it, but it is in your mind so I know to say it.” the diviner tilts his head to the side, “Understand?” he says menacingly.

Jellik “I am as far beyond understanding as it is beyond you! I am overstanding!”

Shael Orcshy slips from its sheath in a fluid motion and slices through the old lady in the same motion, the distance between the two dissapearing between one instant in the next.

DM She falls in half, her bisected body tumbling off of the roof to land below.

Julian Julian looks about, as Kryss gets wrapped up by the beast and Shael faces off against two foes alone. Out of spells and too far for javelins.

Shael Shael wanders around the remaining duo slowly, flicking the ichor from the blade as he appraises each. “You’re next.” he says to the unammed one, “Did you save your name for this?”

Julian “…Damn you, Jessik. Tal knows they all say just this once, I’m sure of it, but…” The forsaken magic has been burning a hole in the back of his head ever since they first found that spellbook. It comes surprisingly easy. Even the thunderclap seems somehow more powerful than normal.

DM The short mentalist lunges at Shael…and disintegrates as the blast rips through his body.

Jellik Jellik falls back himself, his lower jaw hanging loosely and an eyeball tumbling out of the socket.

Shael “Too late.” Shael mourns the unnamed assailant. He tsks and glances at Jellik, “I hope you still have your last name, you’ll not make it out of here with anything less.”

Julian? Julian stares up at the rooftop, his face bloodless white. “I don’t have to stop, Jessik.”

Jellik “Jell! Jell! Jell!”

Julian? “I can keep going. Or if you give up now, maybe we’ll live out the night.”

Jellik “Give…up?” Jellik laughs, ripping open more wounds on his face.

Kryss Kryss struggles with the mentalist’s pet beast.

Shael “Must be Jellin’.” Shael observes, he picks bits of the mentalist off of himself.

DM The wyste struggles back with Kryss, slamming the warrior to the ground.

Jellik “Never gunna give you up,” mutters Jellik, as a mental wave washes out from him.

DM It smashes into Shael like a runaway horse.

Julian? “I mean it, Jessik.” The power flowing from Julian spikes as the roof itself begins to crack and shake apart. “I don’t have to stop!”

Jellik As the blast strikes Jellik, it tears his arm off, and half of his face. He shrieks in pain and excitement. “Yes! Yes! Show me your true potential, paladin!”

Julian? Julian draws a labored breath as he looks up through the miasma of destruction. “…help me, Kryss.” Much quieter now. “I need to stop.” His fingers twitch as he begins to trace another spell.

DM The wyste’s tentacles tighten, snapping bones.

Julian? The dragon warrior is having enough trouble helping himself, it seems. Julian clenches his fists.

Jellik/b> Jellik staggers up to the stunned Shael, chuckling. “And now, feel the true taste of my power!” He touches his forehead, and…nothing. “True taste of my power!” Another touch, and nothing. Jellik mutters. “Damn power points, not around when you need them. Hmph. TRUE TASTE OF MY POWER!” He pushes Shael off the roof.

DM Shael tumbles off, and catches on his coat, dangling. Jellik curses.

Shael Shael goes from lax to rigid in a second. Stabalizing himself with a hand against the lip of the roof, he places his feet against the wall to vault over Jellik. The diviner’s image fades into a mirage which dashes through Jellik. Shael finishes his iajutsu pose, sheathing Orcshy, as a copy of the sword spin-slashes in his wake.

DM Jellik tries to form a thought shield, and it cracks as Shael crashes through.

Shael “Double-Shadow-Strike.” Shael intones as his secret, ultimate move is completed.

Jellik He coughs, an action that throws part of his body out of sync with the rest. A slightly confused expression comes over his face as he falls into quartered chunks.

DM The wyste disppears into a purple haze as the psion dies.

Julian Julian chokes back the last spell that was seeking to force its way up through his lips as he sees the enemy fall. “Good… good hit.”

Shael Sheal peeks over the lip of the roof to check on his allies first, he tips an imaginary hat at Julian before turning to loot the dead bodies.

Torea Torea comes rushing back once the wyste is gone. “My goddess, are you alright?”

Julian “Hey Kryss… Torea?” He abandons the effort to have the dragon go check on her when she reappears. The paladin shakes his head in response to her question. The last eight words seem to have worn him out for the moment.

Torea She lays her hands on his chest, channeling her divine power into him.

Julian The magic improves his condition, slightly.

Shael Cracking his neck, Shael tosses the first body off the roof right after he’s finished looting it. The third soon follows the second and then just before his spell expires Shael hits the ground himself.

Julian “Let’s get out of here… before anything else…” Speaking remains an immense effort.

DM Jellik did not appear to have anything other than a very strange idol on his person, but the other cultists had what seems to be a magic stone, ring and amulet.

Shael “Kryss? Can you carry Jules? Torea, where is Allein? Let’s gather her and head back to your shrine for now…” he glances at Julian with some concern, “…I’d like to heed your wishes… but, for now, it is unwise I think…”

DM Kryss nods and moves to lift Julian onto his broad shoulders.

Julian Who knows whether the paladin agrees or just doesn’t have the energy to argue, but argue he does not.

Shael Along the way, Shael managers to tip a manager to deliver a messenger to Ember asking her to meet them at the Shrine of Serra.

DM Once at the Shrine of Serra, the heroes finally can breathe a bit without alien monsters or worshippers attacking them. Ember arrives in a few hours with Devis and Lidda. They are battered themselves, explaining their injuries as a wererat attack.

Shael “Were you infected?” Shael worries.

Ember Ember shakes her head. “Rapiers, not teeth.”

Julian Julian by this point is curled up in bed under a pile of furs, shivering hard. He cracks his eyes to look at them. “Good. We have wolfsbane for bites though.”

Shael Shael nods, relieved. “If you need a referral to the clergy to have it cured, or money for wolvesbane, let us know.” he urges. “And I have a request…” He describes the bookstore, the danger within, and his concern that people might wander (or be enticed) to enter it. “Can you guard it for us?”

Devis Devis’ eyes shine. “Sounds exciting.”

Shael Shael seems nervous at his response and glances at Lidda as if seeking comfort.

Lidda She works a dagger between her fingers. “Yeah, we can do that.”

Shael “Thanks!” he lays out the psionic stones of light, color spray, and burning hands and wonders, “Think any of these’d be useful to y’all? They’re dorje,” he explains to Devis, assuming he’d be the first to understand and Lidda the second.

Ember Ember looks them over. “This stores…the concept of fire?” she asks regarding one of the stones.

Shael He nods, happilly surprised by Ember’s proficiency. “Yes. This is the idea of illumination and the third is the impression of bedazzlelment.”

Ember “I would be honored to bear the firestone.”

Shael Shael smiles and gathers the other two, “Please, accept the gift as thanks for your assistance.” he says formally to the monk.

Ember She bows and takes it.

Shael “Good luck.” he says. When they leave, Ojo slinks from an alley and pads along behind them – she’s the guardian against any real danger, but of course she cannot dissuade any foolish commoners from endangering themselves. “While you’re recovering…” says Shael, “…I’d like to visit with the outlander, the barbarian. Svenson? Do you think you’ll be well enough to join me, or are there other things you had in mind?” he gaze strays curiously towards the waifish warrioress.

Julian By the next day Julian is up and about, slowly, and the dead-looking white scars where wild mana seared his arms are fading back to something like healthy skin. He still wears a long-sleeved shirt before showing himself, though. By the third, his complexion has improved from corpselike to ill, though his hands still shake like an old man’s. His energy is starting to come back, too, though.

Julian “I’m well enough.”

Shael It is the second day, and early in it, that Shael goes to find Svenson at the Courthouse.

DM The two heroes are allowed to sit in on the judgement. It is swift and to the point. Svenson drew steel on the guards. He seems to be headed for a stiff fine of 100 gold pieces and three days in jail.

Shael “Wow… a bit stiff, but entirely fair.” Shael murmers very quietly to himself, impressed. He takes note of the judge.

DM The judge is a middle aged woman, and the prosecution is one of the Baron’s men. Judge Yonla seems quite matter of fact about the entire affair. Svenson, for his part, seems much calmer.

Shael As much as he takes note of the judge, he is taking account of Svenson’s reactions and actions in response to the proceedings.

DM He gruffly apologizes for being too forceful with the ‘weakling southerners’ and too impatient with their insults. The fine is raised to 150 gold.

Shael Shael grins at that. After the proceedings are concluded, Shael finds out whether he is allowed to visit with the newly minted prisoner.

DM He is, the Baron’s man seems mildly surprised but allows the pair access once he finds that they are the ones who aided with the wererat trouble earlier.

Shael Shael tips an imaginary hat in thanks, “I don’t have a hat, yet.” he mentions in passing before he finds himself standing before Svenson. “Greetings.” he mentions light-heartedly.

Svenson “Huh. It’s you guys again.”

Shael “It is. You seem well. Are you able to pay the fine?” Shael does not seem to think subtlty is in order.

Svenson “Not without killing one of these gold ladden southerners wandering around the fair,” Svenson laments.

Shael Shael nods, “What will you do when you are released?” he wonders, his mind subtly tasting the thoughts of the barbarian.

Svenson “I had wanted to see one of these southerner fairs before I return to the mountains in the north,” he responds.

DM Shael’s spell picks up similar ideas. The barbarian intends to drink, eat and fuck his way through the fair. Maybe a fight or five.

Shael “Such a simple thing? Truly? No quest or grand intent?” He seems almost dissapointed, but not disparaging. “I trust you to fight only those who a worth fighting; will you remember when you are released to judge the southerners even weaker than they may otherwise appear? Their ways are not the same as yours.”

Svenson Svenson chews on that a bit. “Ah, you mean take it easy on them?”

Shael He smiles vaguely, “I mean, only fight the fights you’re sure you’ll lose – you will almost certainly win them… there is no honor in fighting the other battles.” he pauses and tilts his head, “Of course, I suppose I know little of the northern tribes… is your honor something you value?” he asks with genuine curiousity.

DM The spell doesn’t reveal any grand quests beyond a vague hope that he might fuck four southern women at the same time…one of each color, it would appear.

Julian “Hey…” Julian chides gently. “There’s tough people in these parts too. Not all gold-laden fools.”

Svenson “Honor is all one has.”

Shael “Honor is all one has.” Shael agrees. He glances at Julian with a grin, “Perhaps a few…” he agrees wryly, “…else there’d be no fights worthy of Svenson at all.” Turning back to Svenson he concludes, “If you find trouble you can’t muscle your way out of, you’ll find me at the Stony Gaze. Ready?” he asks Julian.

Julian “Yeah. Good luck, then.” he bids farewell to Svenson.

Shael On the way out, Shael pays Svensons fine.

Svenson The berserker farts loudly as the pair leaves.

Julian Julian raises an eyebrow as they head back out into the street. “Trying to make a friend?”

Shael “No.” Shael says with a sideways glance, “It was the right thing to do – I just wanted to make sure the kindness wouldn’t cause more harm than good.”

Julian “Hmm.” Julian chews on that a bit. “Speaking of the right thing to do, I’ve been lying in bed long enough while there’s a murderer out on the streets.”

Shael Shael snorts with amusement, “There is always a murderer on the streets, Jules. There is always an evil afoot, an adventure to tame, a mystery to solve. You can’t fix the world in a day, just do one good thing at a time. And if needed, that good thing can be recovering your strength.”

Julian “Ha. Pick your poison, Shael.” After discussion the pair agree to investigate the bell tower.

Shael “No poison, please.” Shael says, eyeing his companion oddly. His steps take them towards the belltower, though, if that answers Jules’ inquiry.

Shael “So, what’s up with you, anyways? You okay?”

Julian “Not really. It seemed very easy to control at first, you know? But it’s not. Not at all.”

Shael “Nope.” he agrees. “You kept feeling the pull, hmm? The infinite power just beyond your grasp?”

Julian “Feeling it? I could taste it. Still can. Can’t taste much else yet. Anyway. I know you studied it, same as me. You should know what’s waiting if you ever use it.”

Shael “Where did you learn, Julian? The signatures, they’re all over the place… Talvudran Cantos, the Incuvian Reduction, Flladts’ Second Incantation…”

Julian The paladin grins wryly. “I’ll tell you my life story sometime, I guess, if you tell me yours. But not today.” He looks up as the bell tower looms ahead. “Got work to do.” Lightbringer has been heavy in his hands lately, but he fingers the hilt of a black-hilted dagger as he looks the place up and down.

Shael He stops and faces Julian, “My point is this – you have to control it. If you want me to teach you more, ask.” Stoney-faced, he waits for acknowledgement.

DM The door is slightly open, and both men notice the reality bending effect…not enough to sway their minds, but anyone who wasn’t intent on a purpose in the belltower would find their thoughts…diverted.

Julian “Yeah. All right.”

Shael “I’ll always know exactly when to use it, that’s my power… you won’t have that luxury. I care for you and it would break my heart to have to put you down.” he lets it go after that and looks at the belltower. Lightheartedly he wonders, “Think we could go in through the top?”

Julian “I’m sure you will know when to use it. And when to stop. Knowing, and doing…” Julian shrugs, peering upward, looking for a window. “Might be a nice surprise for whoever’s up there.” The heroes work out a plan of attack. They will enter at the second floor to avoid any ambushes and strike from above. Julian lead climbs, letting down a rope for Shael when he reaches a window.

DM Inside the window, an oil lamp flickering in the far right corner offers the room’s only illumination. It rests on a low bookcase, beside a comfortable looking, if weathered, armchair. In the far left corner is a bed, carefully made, and a small nightstand. From a square hole in the center of the ceiling, four heavy ropes dangle, coiling on the floor.

DM The rope is lowered without an issue.

Shael The person who climbs the wall doesn’t look much like the diviner; more like the prisoner they took earlier. Shael breifly wonders whatever happened to the man he looks like now.

Julian “Neat trick.” Julian mutters. “Up, I think?” He lets Shael go first this time to take advantage of the disguise.

Shael “Yeah, for starters.” he takes the lead, his mind probing for thoughts as they search each level.

DM They round the stairs, heading up. On the third floor, they find small rooms littered with debris that smell strongly of rodent waste and animal fur. The two of them hear the man approaching before he comes into view.

DM “Dramer?” the guy asks confused. It is directed at Shael.

Shael “Hey, what’s wrong?” Shael asks, probing the guys mind to find how he is expected to act.

DM The guy is Jaksun, and he is surprised to see Dramer here, alive. He’s really concerned about Squirm, who has been acting strange ever since that hooded guy came here.

Shael “Took the round about, had to shake those guys. Took one with, though.” he elbows Julian, “He’s one o’ us now.” the disguised diviner snickers.

DM He’s also feeling a bit guilty, because he’s been screwing Dramer’s girlfriend Ulinor for about three weeks now, and he’s not sure Dramer knows.

Jaksun Jaksun looks Julian over, sniffing.

Julian “I thought you said there was gonna be a bunch of us.” Julian grumbles.

Shael “Hey… you looked in on Ulinor for meh? Been a few days hidin’, worried ‘bout her, y’know?”

Jaksun “Ah…yeah, heh, she’s…she’s fine. And the others are here, upstairs. The ones that weren’t taken.”

Shael “Wha’? Taken wheres’?” Shael imitates agitation, making to join the others while Jaksun explains.

Jaksun’s Mind What a fucking moron. I shouldn’t feel bad I’m fucking her if he’s this stupid. Fear as he tries to think about the taken rats

Jaksun “Ah…we don’t know.”

Shael “C’mon, let’s go. I’ma give my report so I can get back to her… I’d just die without her, y’ken? I’d literally die.”

Jaksun “Some sorta…dog. Came out of no where. Grabbed them and vanished.” Fuck he’s pathetic.

Shael “Huh, that’s… where? Attacked here?”

Jaksun “After the hood. Jumped through walls, ceilings, floors…”

Shael Shael has trouble not looking intrigued so he turns away instead. “What we gone do about it, then?”

Jaksun “We’re down to a pack of six. Eight with you guys. Figure we’ll hit a few transients during the full moon, buff up the numbers.”

Shael “Huh.” he considers for a moment, glances at Julian. With pursed lips he intones, “Five.”

Jaksun “Maybe take a kid or two from folks late on their protection payments…five what?”

Julian Julian clubs him in the back of the head with the pommel of Lightbringer. “You’re down to five.”

DM He staggers, but before he can whirl and counter, Shael’s spell takes him out.

Shael “Enjoy dreams so wonderous you’ll hesitate to return to the world of the concious.” Shael requests politely.

Julian Julian quickly disarms the man, then binds him. Last is a gag.

DM Ojo’s impression of the tower indicated that the rats left their important belongings in their own feces. A hiding spot easily enough to keep her away.

Shael Shael relates the news.

Julian “We’ll, let’s take care of the rest of them before worrying about that. After you.”

Shael Shael looks up, slinging shit off his hands, “Huh?”

Julian “The other five?”

Shael With one more wiggle of his hands, they’re clean and he nods. He charges up the stairs like a madman, shouting in emulated fear. When he reaches the level the others are on he throws open the door and shouts, “The hound is attacking again! It got Jaksun!!”

DM The landing grows dark as it drains the very life from Shael. The next level has some dire rats, which are definitely not being fooled by Shael’s dashing good looks. They lunge, diseased mouths open wide, at the pair. From above comes a muffled voice. “Did you hear something?”

Shael Shael makes his way out of the draining darkness and invokes a blessing upon himself and Julian.

Julian Julian moves to dispatch the lead rat before it can make too much of a fuss. Shaking or not, his hands still have strength in them.

DM Two rats fall dead.

DM The third leaps upon Julian snapping viciously.

Shael A lance of flame ignites the creature, lest our dear readers forget how formidible Shael is when not forced to swing a hunk of metal at things.

DM It roasts immediately.

Julian Sparing not a glance more for the creature, the heroes make their way upward. Well, at least Julian spares not a glance. Who can tell what Shael may do?

Shael “Heya!” Shael/Dramer calls as they round the landing to the next level.

DM Upward, there are more snapping dire rats, as well as two wererat thugs lounging about. They look up, confused at the dire rats’ reaction. The large room is crisscrossed with ropes and enormous pulleys, the machinery that allows a single person to ring the enormous bells above with a mere pull on a rope. The agitated squeaking of a rat echoes high above you.

Shael “What’s gotten into them?” Shael says, surprised.

DM “You tell me, Dramer, you fucking layabout? Where the hell have you been? And who the fuck is that?”

Shael “Keepin’ low after that disaster, I heard about this hood and hound – what the hell have YOU all been doing?” He edges around the rats, “That’s Baden – one o’ us after he wouldn’t stop chasin’ me down.”

DM “Trying to run a gang here, Dramer. Did you get the others you were supposed to?”

Julian Julian approaches with Shael as if to sniff his introductions.

DM “The big moron and his preachy boyfriend?” he prompts when Shael doesn’t respond.

Shael “Th’ell you think I am?” He demands, “‘Course I did. They’ll turn soon’uff. What’s the plan ’ere, then?”

DMYOUR part of the plan was to recruit three powerful warriors, not one half-halfling. MY part of the plan is to make sure you idiots pull off your parts so Squirm doesn’t have to worry.”

Shael “Yeah, well Jaksun says Squirms gone moon-eyed with the hood. Who’s keepin your parts t’gether then?”

DM “The Hood says we’re going to take this entire town. No more hiding out in the tower.”

Julian It’s at about this time that Julian gets close enough. And Lightbringer comes out.

Shael “Hard to do when there’s only three o’ yas left.” He minds the injured man.

DM “Ah! Holy fuck, Baden!? Kill him Rax!” The leader’s blood sprays all over, he’s wounded and bad. “Why…why ain’t it healing?” he mumbles, as the wound pours.

Shael “You don’ wan’ do that, Rax. We gotta keep t’gether – stick wit me, WE’RE takin’ o’er this town. I got the warriors, not this hack.”

Rax Rax grunts, confused. “He’s got a damn point, Grag.”

Julian “Dramer’s the boss. Get it?”

Grag Grag leaps towards the ropes, descending as quickly as he can. He tumbles from them once he falls asleep.

Julian Julian heads on down and does for him like he did for Jaksun. Plus an extra club to the head once he’s tied up to make sure he stays out.

DM The rats lunge, but cower as Rax glares at them.

Shael “Right.” he looks at Rax after the traitor is dealt with, “Ready to finish this?”

Rax “You planning on taking Squirm?”

Shael “Got to, just ‘till he comes to his senses. That hood is no good, messin’ him up fierce, gotta protect the pack first if we’re gonna thrive.”

Rax Rax nods. “Baden sure likes to fuck around though, don’t he?”

DM Further up the stairs…they end abruptly, and a gust of wind blasts through this topmost level of the tower. Open archways afford a splendid view of the town below, as well as the carved grotesques perched around the top of the tower. Overhead, four enormous bells hang in the peaked spire, each suspended in its own archway. Squirm sits upon a makeshift throne, flanked by two women and several rats.

Squirm “Dramer. So the prodigal has returned.”

Shael “Has it, then? What’s new, Squirm. Heard you found us a new boss.”

Squrim Squirm pops a prune into his mouth and chews. “Partner. Not a boss. I still run this gang, she’s not taking it away from me, no she’s not. Why would you even mention it because that’s crazy. Crazy. We’re going to be splitting a much bigger pie though, right? Only needed a little sacrifice. Can’t make an omelette, you know.”

Shael “She turnt? Cuz if’n she aint, no trustin’ her. You know how they are, those, just out to use us, abuse us, throw us their scraps. I ain’t ’biden scraps no more.”

Squirm “Biden scraps, eh? Sounds like mutiny, Dramer. Is it mutiny?”

Shael “S’right. Them eyes unner that hood so pretty you forget the pack, Squirm? You forget what’s good for us, eh?”

Squrim “I hear them in my dreams, Dramer. They’re one with me now. Always.”

Shael “Gonna sellus up the river for some dreamy skirt?”

Squirm “Skirt, heh, heh. That’s funny.”

Shael “You hear ’im, boys!” he exhorts the others, “This what you want? Followin’ some leader what ain’t ev’n turnt while squirm eats dogfood from a silver platter and thinks it’s a favor?”

Wererat “Who are you calling boy, Dramer?” one of the girls speaks very coldly towards Shael.

Julian “I’m followin’ you, Dramer.” Julian lines up support for Shael’s side. “This guy’s lost it.”

Shael “Y’ken y’got more balls than allus ‘ere, Ulinor. Y’d have to t’fuck that cunt Jaksun. Y’d have to cuz I cut ’is off, see.” Shael/Dramer sneers.

Ulinor “He’s more of a man than you’ll ever be, Dramer. You and your stupid swagger and your big stupid dreams that never came true. Well, I’ve got true dreams now. Dreams that would make your eyes melt.”

Shael “No more and never ‘gin, y’rag. What ‘bout you, Gequa? Y’in the sauce with these thralls?”

DM The thoughts coming off Ulinor are…fuzzy. Like literally fuzzy, Shael can feel his spell starting to crackle as they come into contact with whatever is going on there.

Gequa Gequa looks back and forth, nervously. “Yeah, I’m with yo…gurk” Squirm’s silver blade protrudes from her chest the moment she turns on him.

Ulinor Ulinor uncoils a chain and lashes it out at Dramer.

Shael “No one had to die today.” Shael growls. “Those who endure in the face of suffering, those whose faith shines long in evil days, they shall see salvation.” he demands.

DM Gequa writhes in pain on the floor from the silver wounds, but Shael appears to have saved her life.

Julian Seeing his callous murder of one of his own, the mutineers find themselves filled with new resolve to battle Squirm.

Shael Dramer whipes the blood from his lip, “You will not be spared.”

Julian Or Julian’s spell might have something to do with it.

Rax Rax rushes in, and Ulinor’s chain lashes out.

DM He trips, as her chain snakes around his legs. The rats rush forward as Squirm stalks in. Rax twitches as Squirm drives his blade through his heart.

Shael Shael winces, gritting his teeth. “Yup, you’re dead, mate. Turnin’ on the pack like that, th’only sentence I can give no more. Yer addled, gotta put you down.”

DM The chain lashes out fiercely. Fiercely, because effectively would be a poor word to describe the attack.

Shael Shael places his hands togethre and invokes, “Next to Grace is Reason, and Reason must be retained. If the web of Reason comes unwoven, madness will escape.” Three shadowy images of himself detach and stand nearby, shuffling until it is impossible to which is which; one lashes out with it’s sword while holding a shield at the ready.

Julian Meanwhile, “Baden” holds his sword high, and a thunderclap bursts over the foes.

DM Two of the rats burst into chunks. Ulinor shakes off the attack due to her sheer madness, but Squirm stumbles and catches it right in the face. The sound of cracking bone is audible. Because sounds are audible. That’s what makes them sound.

Julian Julian takes a moment to reflect on this universal truth as the sound of his own spell fades.

DM The rat pack leaps almost entirely upon Julian. Only Squirm, driven by rage at his would be rival, ignores the pile. He instead lunges at Shael, failing to strike him. Due to mirror image? Insanity? Poor practice? Who knows.

Shael One of Shael’s images continues to hack at Ulinor, but with a crackling surge of power Shael invokes his most powerful attack – MAGIC MISSILE!

DM The missiles smash into the wererat leader’s chest. The shadowy Shael slashes Ulinor across her belly, foolishly exposed.

Julian Julian might work another spell, but after running dry and being forced to extremes once, the knight is minded to be cautious. He hacks at Ulinor with Lightbringer instead.

DM She twists to avoid the attack, and blinks in confusion as the movement is prevented…by Lightbringer, hilt deep in her chest. She hisses and spits at Julian as she slumps to the ground.

Squirm “No!” Squirm groans as Ulinor dies. The final rat goes berserk, biting at Julian’s throat. The wererat leader himself throws himself into the attack on Shael, driving the mage back with a savage fury.

DM A savage fury that leaves one of the shadow images torn to tatters.

Shael The shredded image slices at Squirm before it fades away while the two remaining images crouch between eachother and spin a magical ball of lightning. Shael charges through them gathering the lightning and aiming it towards Squirm’s heart.

DM The lightning strikes the wererat, but he blocks the bulk of it on his silver blade, arcing it away from his heart.

Julian Julian casts aside his shield – much good it is doing him – and grips Lightbringer two-handed. The first slash goes to his rat assailant.

DM Correction. Through his rat assailant. The creature is dead before its parts hit the ground.

Julian He strides forward to strike at Squirm

Squirm The psychotic wererat is befuddled by this assault, and slowly his wounds are bleeding faster than they are healing. He adopts a defensive posture and scythes his blade out towards Shael’s throat. It rings off the invisible force that the mage summons to his defense.

Shael “Well, I have to apologize…” Shael mourns, “…I’m all out of glamorous, dramatic deaths.” the image of sunstrider slashes…

DM Squirm yawns, his head tipping back further…and he topples to the ground.

Shael Looking up at Julian he shrugs, “Might be worth learning more about the cloaked lady.”

DM What will Squirm tell our heroes regarding a lady, cloaked or otherwise? Find out next week, Loyal Readers!

The Speaker in Dreams 5
Brindinford, Goodmonth 1.4-1.5 BCY 14500

Session 22

DM When last we left our heroes, their prisoners were limp sacks of drooling flesh. Other than some mutterings about Alein dropping the ball in this neighborhood, we’ve got little to go on…why did alien creatures emerge from nowhere to assault our heroes? Read on and (maybe) find out!

Kryss “Why did these alien creatures emerge from nowhere to assault us?” Kryss asks Julian. “Do you think it was a hit from the wererats?”

Julian “This seems out of their league. But it doesn’t really seem like a coincidence, either.”

DM The two lobotomized wererats with them seem to suggest that no, it wasn’t the rats.

Julian “Good news is, I don’t think we’re going to have to walk the rest of the way to the guards. Guessing they will be by before too long.” Julian kneels and examines one of the ratmen.

Kryss “Perhaps their master scrambled their senses to keep them from talking?” Kryss offers, not willing to abandon his ratman theory.

DM The ratman is glassy eyed, breathing shallowly and unresponsive to probing.

Julian “Could be. We should still follow up at the bell tower.”

Kryss “Are we going at night or day?”

Julian “I don’t know if this gang leader they talked about could do something like this, but maybe HE has a boss… Daytime. Which I guess means tomorrow.”

Kryss “Then we need secure lodging tonight. Somewhere with a buffet. We’ll need good food and good rest before we take on a nest of vermin.” Kryss looks at the sky attempting to judge the time of day.

DM It’s the afternoon. Late afternoon, nearing evening.

Kryss “Time to eat anyway. Lets go find some guards to dump these two off on and give a report and then maybe we can find a turkey roasting somewhere.”

Julian “Yeah.” Julian hangs around for a bit waiting for the guards to arrive. When they do he explains the events and hands off custody of the gooey scene and the lobotomized ratmen.

Kryss “We should also take the time to look into those murders we heard about. We should have time. Also, I still need my vendors license. At this point it might be nessecary to find someone to sell my goods on commission. Since were policing the streets apparently.”

Julian He takes a moment aside with the leader to fill him in on a bit of what the group learned. Couldn’t hurt, again, to try to stay on the Lieutenant’s good side and keep her in the loop.

Julian “All right,” he nods when they’re done, “let’s find some food and then see what else we can find.”

Kryss “Its clear that you are filled with Tal’s wisdom. That place smells like boar on a spit. Lets check there first.”

Julian After temporarily satiating the insatiable stomach of Kryss, the pair set off, first to visit this Alein, with murder investigations the second stop on the list.

DM They get directions to the shrine where Alein makes her home. As they approach, a shrine decorated with the iconography of Serra looms out of a bank of thick mist. A woman’s voice cries out from behind the shrine. The words are indistinct, but the tone carries a sense of urgency.

Julian Julian picks up the pace.

Kryss Kryss follows.

DM They can hear the rattling of armor as someone collapses to the ground.

Kryss Kryss jogs along, taking a moment to mentally ask Xi to furtively check the situation and report back.

Xi Xi curses his stupidity at sending him into the fog but heads up and over.

DM No more cries come from the woman.

Julian Julian bursts through the front door and looks for the back.

Kryss Kryss charges blindly behind his friend, axe at the ready. Xi! Whats going on? he demands.

DM “Can’t see…they came from…behind…”

Julian “That way!” Julian heads right.

Kryss “Get out of there. You musnt be seen here.” Kryss dismisses him. he chases to where Julian sends him.

DM The pair hear a high pitched whining sound and Kryss gets the impression of pain from his empathic link.

Julian Julian hurries for the back exit.

DM The fog is thick and blinding, but they stumble their way towards the rear.

Julian Julian lets the wisdom of Tal guide him. That and his ears.

Kryss Kryss follows behind, “This is not a good city to raise hatchlings,” he remarks.

Julian He quickly closes in on the sounds of movement, Lightbringer raised.

Julian “It sure has a lot of trouble right now!”

DM Two strange looking men are trying to hoist a woman in full plate up to carry her off. She is sleeping soundly.

Julian “Stop!” Julian demands.

DM They whirl when Julian yells, touching their temples and firing green beams at him….and we’ll find out about those beams once Kryss has had his say about it, True Believers.

Kryss Kryss appears from the mist behind one of the brutes as they are distracted by Julian. His massive gauntlet wraps around the mans neck from behind and drags him into the mist with him.

DM Kryss snatches the man with no problem. However, it does not prevent him from touching his temple. The high pitched whines are revealed, as the green beams strike Kryss and Julian.

Julian As the would-be kidnapper is dragged away and the woman falls, Julian tries to wake her, guessing that it may be a magic spell rather than sheer blunt trauma that has put her out. Given the mysterious fog and the magic beams and all, magic seems worth a guess at least.

DM It could have been a long day for her, but she appears to respond to Julian’s ministrations. She blinks as she takes it all in. “Kidnappers! By Serra’s Grace I will smite thee!”

Julian “Try to take them alive though!” Julian encourages as he readies Lightbringer. “You’re Alein?” Julian slides around the magician’s flank as he speaks.

DM “Wha..no, you scoundrals kidnapped Alein, and I’ll have you answer in steel for it!”

Julian “Wha… wait! Same side! Same side! We found these sorcerers trying to kidnap you!”

Kryss Kryss takes the green blast full on in the face without blinking. He rips the mans head back by his hair and drags Shatterspikes razor sharp blade across his belly.

DM The blade sends sparks up from the brick of the building that it gouges through on its deadly arc. Kryss finds himself holding the head and torso of the man, the lower portion of this body having dropped to the ground, being entirely severed. He flings the corpse at the man’s companion. The man gasps, pulling a stone from his belt and holding it up before Julian. “Open your inner eye!” he screams. The flashing colors have no effect on Julian other than to annoy him.

Julian “Your petty dancing lights are no match for the light of Heaven!” Julian proclaims, throwing back his hood dramatically to expose the burning star on his brow and swinging at the foe with his glowing holy blade. All in all, there’s a lot of light involved.

DM The vile sorcerer takes but one good thump from Lightbringer’s flat to fall unconscious.

Julian “…ahem.” Julian lowers his holy blade. “I see we arrived just in time, Miss. What happened to Alein, then?”

Julian “Kryss,” he adds into the fog, “I take it from the half-magician that you are fine.”

Young Woman “I am Torea…these foul mages have stolen her away!”

Torea “We heard a cry for help…she went to investigate…she didn’t return, so I went to check on her. That’s when I found this purplish fog lingering.” She looks closer at the dead man. “This man…he was at the Reality Wrinkle when we investigated the murder.”

DM The fog incidentally, is fading now that the sorcerers have been bested.

Julian Julian looks around for any sign of the now-missing Alein.

DM Torea helps. There isn’t much to go on…the footprints end abruptly about sixty feet out.

Julian As he listens to Torea. “Murders… that was next on our list too. You mean the ones in Southspur? The footprints just end. Magician, I guess.” Julian shrugs.

Torea “No, here in West Hill. A man was drained completely of blood, a dozen little puncture wounds all over his body. The proprietor said it was an accident and he fell, Alein didn’t buy it. I guess we asked too many questions.”

Kryss “Which shop?”

Torea “The Reality Wrinkle, it is a bookstore.”

Julian “And what was this guy doing there?” Julian nudges the torso with a toe. “Wait, what?” The name registers for the first time. “THAT can’t be a coincidence.”

Torea “It deals in that weird sort of mage nonsense that people with too little sense take up,” she explains.

DM Despite her confidence, Julian and Kryss can tell that Torea is largely untested in actual battle.

Torea “That…guy…was just hanging around, he was buying a book. I just remember, because he looked…you know, really complicated without any good reason for it?”

Julian “Well, Kryss, I think you’re probably right. Kidnapping sorcerers from a place called the Reality Wrinkle, right after those… alien things wipe out our lead? Definitely a conspiracy of some kind.”

Kryss “Im in the market for books.” Kryss shrugs. “Do you think they have any about dragons?”

Julian “Let’s find out.”

Torea “Only one way to find out,” Torea says at the same time. She giggles and looks at Julian nervously.

Julian Julian grins. “Lead the way.”

DM The Reality Wrinkle is a small bookseller’s shop in West Hill, located on a small side street called Arcane Way. The shop specializes in tomes of the strangest sort, obscure philosophical treatises dealing with other dimensions and alternate realities, pseduo-theological texts of an alchemical or theosophical bent and the ravings of lunatics who delved too deeply into bizarre magical secrets. The Reality Wrinkle stands in a row of similar looking shops with apartments on the upper stories, built side by side. Like other such row houses, the first story is built from the dark stone common in West Hill, while the two upper stories are wood. The bookshop proper occupies the main floor. A short series of steps leads up to the front door and main floor of the Reality Wrinkle. The outer doors, front and back are made from heavy wood. Iron bars block all windows.

Kryss Kryss enters the bookstore, looming over Julian. He pauses as the door resists him. “Maybe lets have a snack and watch a bit” Kryss suggests. “Its closed anyways.”

Julian “We can stake it out, then.” Julian mutters. "If we see our suspects show up with Alein… or if not, we can try busting in once the streets have emptied out a bit.

Kryss “Is that Shael up in that tree?” Kryss asked.

Shael “Hm? No.” Shael says. He shades his eyes with his hand and says, “Doesn’t look like him.”

Kryss Kryss jumps. “Stop that!”

Shael Shael flinches, startled. “Huh? Stop what?” He looks at Julian with surprise, “What have you two been about while I was busy? He seems guilty…”

Julian “We’re going to stake out this bookstore, then break in.”

Kryss Kryss hangs his head. “I cut a guy in half…”

Shael “Huh.” He looks between the two of them for a moment then shrugs, “All seems above-board to me. When do we start?”

Kryss “We were going to get a bite to eat first.”

Julian “And wait for the streets to clear out. Anyway, let me fill you in…”

Torea Torea introduces herself to Shael. “May Serra be with you, sir.”

Shael “Oh, bookstore!” Shael elates, “Not stored books… that makes much mo…” he looks at the apprentice paladin suspiciously, “…yes, yes. Serra be with you. You know that’s my trick, right?” he grumbles.

Julian The party spends some time watching for signs of activity. Later – coincidentally well fed and rested – the group gears up for action.

Kryss “Have you seen anything yet?” Kryss asks, yet again, from around an enormous turkey leg.

DM No one comes or goes to the shop. Even after watching an hour though, they notice that the shadows point the wrong way for the sun.

Julian “Right. It’s a sorcerer’s den all right. Let’s move in.”

Shael “Uhm… do we want to have a plan first?”

Kryss “Got one.” Kryss says.

Julian Julian raises an eyebrow.

Shael “Haha, the usual, then?” Shael nods and leads the way.

Julian “Well, it usually works.”

Kryss “Right,” Kryss hefts Shatterspike as he crosses the street behind Shael.

Julian Julian stands aside for Kryss to get the door.

Kryss Shatterspike smashes into the door.

DM It explodes inward.

Julian The two companions feel inspired by Kryss’s door-slaying prowess.

Kryss Kryss allows his companions to enter.

Shael Shael clears the breach, ignoring any citizens surprised by the sudden BnE.

DM Entering the building causes a wave of vertigo and disorientation, as the buildings inside space does not quite match up with the outside. Something is not right in this place. The angles formed by walls, bookshelves, floors and ceilings seem wrong, as if space itself were warped here. Scrolls and tomes, some bound in materials you do not recognize, fill shelves that line every wall. A small table stands in one corner with two chairs pulled up to it. A counter juts form the opposite wall. Behind the counter, a brocaded curtain hangs in a doorway, its design depicting an alien landscape filled with tentacled creatures of unimaginable monstrosity.

Julian “…was it like this when you were here before?” Julian eyes the walls queasily, trying and failing to nail them down visually.

Shael “Leave your gaze unfocused.” Shael suggests, “Or focus on one of us…”

Torea Torea shakes her head, fighting back the nausea.

Julian It’s too late for Julian, who looks ill. “Got to tough it out.” he mutters. “Come on, let’s go.”

Kryss Kryss shakes his head as well and begins trying to rip the curtains from the windows.

DM He tears a curtain off, only to find a blinking eye on the other side.

Kryss “A little light in here will help.” Kryss stumbles back, Shatterspike swinging to cover his escape.

Julian “Gah put it back!”

Strange Man A strange looking man emerges from behind the curtain. “Customers? Welcome, to the Reality Wrinkle. I presume you come to plumb the depths of psychic magic?”

Kryss “Shael?” Kryss asks, standing up from where he had combat rolled away.

Shael “There is no light, here.” Shael says, observing the eye. “We are not in the world we were before.”

Strange Man He blinks at them, a small trickle of drool trailing down his chin.

Julian “You.” Julian turns to the man. “Who are you?”

Strange Man “Perhaps you wish to find out more about the five stages of fear? How rude of me. I am Jellik.”

Shael He turns to eye the man critically, “Whose shell do you wear, Jellik?”

Jellik “I can reveal to you the secrets of other universes, if you are willing to open your inner eyes. Do you know the difference between a shaman and a warpriest? A hunter and a ranger? An arcanist and wizard? I know all.”

Julian Julian gets very close. Unfortunately, he’s incapable of towering over the other man. “What is wrong with this place?”

Jellik “Your perception of reality, your arrogent assumption of cogent input from your senses.”

Shael Shael shakes his head slowly, “This is not our reality, you’re understanding is limited if you misunderstand what that means.”

Jellik “Here, in this place where veils are torn away, the very actions you take without thought elsewhere are complicated unto entities in and of themselves.”

Julian “…” Julian pushes by him and past the curtain. Perhaps away from the windows of eyes will be better.

DM More bookshelves fill this back room. The disorientation you experienced in the front room is more intense here. A door leads out to the back of the building, and two more doors flank a staircase heading upstairs. A faint lunatic humming emanates from the area near the staircase.

Shael “The veils exist for a reason, there is no need to experience this reality. It limits us just as ours limits you, Jellik. Who let you in? Who created the bridge?”

Kryss “Julian?!” Kryss says, concerned, “Where are you going?” He looks back to Shael for permission to go after the little paladin.

Shael Shael nods to Kryss, “Don’t stray far…” he requests, staying close to the lady paladin.

Julian “Shit, it’s even worse here. What’s that noise?” Julian’s voice comes from past the curtain.

Jellik “Blinded human, what you are, I once was.”

DM “What I am…perhaps you shall become.”

Kryss Kryss joins him, laying a giant, steadying hand on his shoulder.

Julian “Kryss. Glad something here isn’t all wrong. Do you hear that?”

Torea “What have you done with Alein?!” Torea demands.

Jellik “Those beyond the veil have need of her.”

Shael “I see more than you could fathom, Lost One.” he then waits for the answer to Torea’s question.

DM Jellik does not explain further as to what that need might be.

Shael At the answer, the faint wirring of the gears in his mind is nearly audible. “Take us to her.” he commands.

Jellik “Who guards those that drink of a potion?” Jellik demands. “Can one cord truly return the weapon to its owner’s hand? What if one were granted the chance to attempt and avoid the inevitable strike from their foe as they drank of their potion? Would they take that chance? Would we build a myth from that chance?”

Julian “I was going to look and see what’s making it.” Julian confides in Kryss. “But… I don’t think I want to. Come on, he’ll bring us to her or else.”

Shael With a long suffering sigh, Shael suggests: “Kryss, hit him.”

Kryss Kryss clenches his fist.

Jellik “No, wait, I’m mad, not stupid. I’ll take you to her.”

Shael “Thank you.” Shael allows graciously.

Jellik “Please don’t object however, if you have to die.” Jellik heads through the rows of books.

Julian Julian follows suspiciously.

Shael Shael grasps Torea’s shoulder comfortingly before moving to follow as well.

Kryss Kryss stays with Julian.

Jellik Jellik opens a door. A creature with hundreds of mouths across its body lurches out. “Arglbargl must make sure you are worthy to descend to the floor where the gates beyond time stand.”

Shael “Agrabagel?”

Kryss “Agrabargl” Kryss corrects him.

Shael “Ergrabugle?”

Jellik “How foolish of me. That is Barglargl. I will get Arglbargl momentarily.”

Shael “Harmanarmen?”

Julian “No rush…” Julian shakes his head queasily and unsheathes his blade.

Shael “In fact, don’t even bother. We’ll make our own way…” the distance between himself and Jellik dissapears in an instant while Shael unleashes Orcshy against the twisted madman.

DM A psionic shield envelops the man, but Orcshy slices through it all the same. Yellow sticky blood hits the floor.

Jellik “Oh? Oh my.”

Shael Shael winks, “Hope you don’t mind if I steal this dance.”

Torea Torea runs to seize him, but for every step she takes he seems to grow further away. Then all of a sudden he looms large even as she is running to catch up, and she tumbles past him.

DM Barglargl lurches towards Torea, slopping noisly at her armor, but doing no true harm.

Kryss Kryss charges the mouther.

DM His axe cleaves into the squamous mess.

DM A blast of light explodes as Bargl launches a snot rocket at the pair of warriors in the rear, but they avoid the clumsy shot.


Julian Julian rushes in as well, moving to surround the beast.

Shael “Was that supposed to be an insult?” Shael asks, confused. “It was quite complimentary…” he glances back to Jellik, “Have you taught it how to taunt properlly, yet? You know, it’s a integral part of fighting – I’m quite surprised at your failure.”

Julian He thrusts aside all thought of the awful geometry and focuses on a simple art – cutting.

DM His slash hacks off some of the disgusting flesh of Bargl.

Jellik “Bargl is a peaceful soul,” Jellik informs Shael. “It is Argl who will be testing your worthiness. If only there were a random chart to consult in a situation like this. Or perhaps a small contest that we could employ in lieu of speaking or interacting?”

Kryss “Think he’s bluffing?” Kryss asks Julian as they trade blows on the beast.

Shael “Then I will see he finds peace.” Feeling the weight of the gibbering, Shael calls upon his blessings, “Rise!” he commands his companions, “And I will show you how to run without flagging, fight without raging, and fly without wings!”

Shael “But, I suspect it would be unwise to commit to an ego battle in your own domain.”

Torea Torea struggles briefly and then goes still, staring slackjawed at the sorcerer.

DM The air ripples around Jellik, and a cone of energy rips through the area. Torea’s face explodes in blood, from her eyes, ears and mouth. She falls back, and Bargl sniffs curiously in her direction. It farts out another blast of light and snot.

Kryss “This beast disgusts me.”

Julian Julian staggers back, blinded.

Kryss Shatterspike goes into a spin as Kryss starts to see red. The dragon emerges as he hacks into the disgusting beast.

Julian Julian clenches his fist. “Shael, say something…” The paladin remembers how far away Jellik was, but he has lost his bearings.

DM It splatters all over the walls. A tongue appears from behind a bookshelf and licks some of the gore off the wall.

Kryss Kryss roars at the strange man and advances. “End this.”

Shael “Straight ahead.” Shae advises Julian.

Kryss He circles the man, glaring at him.

Julian Julian spins in that direction, and a thunderclap rocks Jellik.

Kryss “Gentlemen,” Kryss grumbles, “I believe were about to open a bookstore.”

DM A tower shimmers out to surround Jellik from Julian’s attack.

Shael “Nah, once we save the girl the whole thing’ll go up in smoke.” Shael mourns, “Which is really a shame, I think I saw a copy of Rex Teagan’s Blights of the Neverwar back there. Probably the only copy left in the world…”

Kryss “That certainly seems to be how things tend to go.” Kryss replies.

Jellik “I suggest you save your friend? She won’t survive another blast.”

Shael “Well, the Neverwar is so called because it never happened – the book shouldn’t exist anyways.” Shael throws out a casual healing spell, “Look, I haven’t told you how to do your job, have I?”

DM Torea slowly comes to.

Jellik “Sell the books!” Jellik screams, waves rippling out again.

DM The waves then ripple and he appears across the room.

Jellik He heads over to the other stairwell and throws wide the door. “Argl!”

Kryss “Hey Julian, theres another one now.” Kryss says.

DM Argl looks even bigger than Bargl did, and its mouths snap and gnash their teeth.

Shael “Doesn’t look so bad, I think it’s smaller than the last one.”

Jellik “Oh come on, he’s at least seven centimeters larger in radius.”

Kryss Kryss moves into a protective position between the monster and Julian.

Shael “Must be past the veils, killer.” Shael jibes with a wry grin. “You’re seeing somethin’ we ain’t.” he shrugs.

Kryss He reaches to his hip and flings his axes at the stange man.

DM The psionic shield blocks the second axe. The first one on the other hand, cuts off Jellik’s arm. A tentacle emerges from the severed flesh.

Jellik “Ow. Most curious. You’ve got the butterflies all tied up.”

Kryss “This is impossible.”

Jellik “Even doves have pride,” Jellik admonishes Kryss.

Julian Julian moves for the edges of the room as his vision clears. He works another spell and the room trembles with the shock of it.

Kryss “Why did you murder all those people?” Kryss demands.

DM The shock sends Jellik flying, and it is the alienist’s face that drips blood from every orifice now. Argle moans and murmurs. Arglebargl lunges at Kryss. Honestly, gibbering mouthers don’t appear that dangerous to creatures wearing full plate mail.

Shael Shael watches Arglebargl comically plump at Kryss. He glances at Jellik, “Seriously?” all tension drains from his body and he wanders over to Torea and kneels beside her. Gently shaking her, channeling healing magic into the young paladin, he murmers, “Hey, hey, you okay?”

Jellik “I have killed no one,” Jellik responds to Kryss. “I have delivered them up unto the Far Void, where they dance among the hundun. Now, pardon moi while I crush your mind.” Jellik’s face suddenly looms large in Kryss’s mind’s eye. The dragon forces him out. The alienist ripples away again.

Kryss “You have little idea of the forces arrayed against you, mortal.” Kryss says, scanning the room.

DM Jellik disappears around a bookshelf.

Torea “I’m… alive.” Torea mutters thickly.

Julian She goes for range, trying to pinion the mouther with a bolt.

Shael “Oh, splendid. It’s always a relief to discover, isn’t it?” He grins.

DM The heavy bolt punches through the roiling mass.

Kryss Kryss is disappointed at his lack of foes and tears into the mouther out of frustration. “Coward!” he calls after Jellik.

DM The blade hacks chunks off the mouther.

Kryss Important Chunks.

Julian Julian comes in from the flank, stabbing for its center of mass. Such as it is.

DM Argle goes to join its brother in a messy explosion.

Julian “Where did he go?”

Kryss “Shael, youve got to unravel this.”

Shael Still on his knees, Shael watches Torea saunter off. Hearing the splotch of Argle’s last moments doesn’t seem to distract him from the sight, but Jellek’s escape does.

Julian “Do what you need to. He’s too dangerous to leave running loose.” Julian agrees.

DM Shael’s mind reaches out and touches…something. He struggles with the towering intellect he has contacted, which seems to be following his magic. A purple and green haired young man appears on the shelf. Across from him, a tall and dark warrior wielding a thin blade and wearing two black diamond earrings stretches and looks around. “Are we there yet?”

Kryss “What the f-” Kryss says.

Young Man The young man looks at Shael, Julian and Kryss. “Mmm. No. Definitely not.”

Torea Torea blinks at them. “More mages…?” The green haired man gestures, and she falls asleep. “Best avoid the inquisition, right?”

Shael Hello. The thoughtform of greeting is abstract, scattered through a prism of intent and laced with well-meaning and curiousity. Despite their apparent presence, Shael doesn’t seem convinced they exist. He observes them neutrally, waiting for more evidence.

Young Man “Is this the one where Hell comes to call?” the young man asks the trio.

Shael “Not yet.” Shael answers, “I think that is later, still.”

Young Man “You find the puzzlebox in here and solve it, then the chains…”

Warrior “Hell is other people,” the warrior remarks.

Julian Julian growls. “Where’s Jellik?”

Kryss Kryss steps back, waiting until someone tells him to hit something.

DM Kryss notes that the warrior suffers from polydactyly.

Young Man “Jellik? I assume upstairs by now with the Blessed? Either that or down in the basement with Alein.”

Kryss “Thats new…” Kryss ponders.

Shael “When are you looking for me?” Shael asks, slowly rising to his feet.

Warrior “He’s pretty low on juice, isn’t he?”

Young Man “Ah, ah, ah…we’re not looking for you. You found us, probably by accident. But we don’t have all the time or perspective for you.”

Warrior The warrior cocks his head, as though he were listening to something. “No. We’re not going to kill them all. No, not any of them!”

Julian “Who are you?”

Shael “Then Alein is still alive?” He nods, “That is all we need to know; it seems our time is short as well.” he glances at his companions.

Warrior “Wait…you two are teaming up? This is ridiculous. I don’t even want a wand of burning hands.”

Kryss “What?”

Warrior “Because you’re supposed to be law abiding!” The warrior seems convinced someone is talking to him. “Yes, lawful to him!”

Young Man The green haired youth nods. “She’s alive…they’re going to send her through the gate though. And whether she’s alive or not after that will be sadly…irrelevant.”

Julian “…okay, let’s go.”

Shael Shael grins, “Whose laws?” he asks the warrior, apparently taking the spectre’s side. “No, they aren’t.” he answers the green haired youth. “You know us – We are Shael, Julian, and Kryss.” he indicates each in turn, “And we are in your debt for that knowledge… if there is anything you would ask in turn?”

Kryss “A real pleasure,” Kryss bows. “Huge fan of your work by the way,” Kryss shakes hands with the warrior. “Lovely bracelets. Where did you get them?” he asks.

Warrior “My bracelets, big guy.” The warrior jerks his arm away possessively.

Young Man “No charge this time. The walls listen, but they don’t always talk back. Anyways, Mormo is a calling, so we’ve got to be moving. Save the paladin, save the world. Or at least the city. Realistically, just the city.”

Kryss “You fellas heard the man, lets save the paladin.” Kryss orders.

Shael Shael nods, “Sure…” he pauses and still says, “…but, hey, don’t worry. You’ll find me… or, you know, whatever.”

Young Man “We’ll meet again. In Rath.”

DM The two vanish.

Shael Before he can answer they’ve vanished. “That’s not what I meant…” he mourns. Cracking his knuckles he shakes it off and starts looking for the downstairs.

Julian Julian summons up a blessing of his own before they descend “Watch our backs,” he asks Torea, “make sure that bastard doesn’t jump us from behind.”

DM They wander for what seems like…hours. They can’t even find their way back to the front of the store at this point. Finally, they locate the stairwell. Descending it reveals that what was before a vague sense of wrongness has grown into a grotesque affront to your sense of reality. This room defies the boundaries of space as you understand them. Distance seems meaningless, angles that should not exist clearly do, and the room itself seems to ebb and flow in time to an alien heartbeat. Garish brocades hang on the wall and two figures in dark hooded robes stand in silence. An incoherent jabbering erupts from a pile on the floor, a living heap of mouths and flesh and eyes – a bedlam of howling, hooting and atonal singing. Curled into a ball on the floor at one end fo the room – it is impossible to tell how far away – is a woman in a red gown, clutching her ears and covering her face with her arms.

Shael Shael dashes around the room, Sunstrider coming loose from its sheath, the terrain bends around him so that at times he seems to be running on the ceiling and walls, but he does not hesitate. Coming up behind the cultists, he swings at one and throws a kick towards the other.

DM The flat of the blade cracks against the cultist’s skull and it collapses. A bright fart blinds Kryss, and the woman who seemed to be so close to Shael flickers and ends up further away from him. The mouther, clearly more able than the upper floor ones, bites into…Shael’s shield. Er wait, no. It’s just as incompetent and useless as its upper floor pals.

Torea “Alein!” Torea calls, when the mouther replaces her master she fires a crossbow bolt at it.

DM The crossbow tears through the creature, and the cultist touches his temple, firing a green blast at Shael.

Julian Julian moves in to put a stop to that.

Kryss Kryss feels his way forward. “Protector? I can almost smell you…”

DM The second cultist falls unconscious as well. A sliver of silver forms vertically near Alein.

Shael “This way.” Shael calls out to Kryss before darting after Alein, “Damnit, not on my watch.” he protests, trying to retrieve the paladin before… whatever is happening.

DM He runs upside down staircases, and turns through living and hungry angles, but finally reaches the paladin, snatching her away before the gate opens. And opens it does. Two tentacles snake out, seizing the cultists, and yanking their bodies’ flesh into the portal before it closes. All that is left of them are their robes and whatever meager belongings they may have held within that cloth. “Arrooo?” the mouther wonders aloud.

Shael “Oh, you’ll be fine, quit complaining.” he says to the mouther.

DM It tries nibbling on Julian.

Torea Torea valiantly fires another bolt at the mouther.

Shael “Stop that!” Shael grumbles, it’s unclear if he’s talking to Torea or the mouther.

Julian Julian fends the thing off. “First things first, let’s get her the hell out of here.”

Shael He spends his time helping Alein to her feet, “Come on, we’re getting you out of here.” he asserts. “Kryss, Torea, withdraw!”

DM They find their way up to the ground floor.

Julian “They’re up above.” Julian observes. “Burning evil sorcerers would be… well, it’s the way it’s done. And there’s plenty of kindling down here.”

Shael Shael blinks, unable to assail Julian’s logic. “But… the books…” he protests meakly. Letting out a long sigh he nods and agrees, “An excellent plan.” However, to quench a nagging doubt in his mind, Shael subtly probes the mind of their rescuee – just to make sure she’s not, like, a doppelganger or something.

Julian “Right then. I’ll be right behind you.” Julian lights a torch and starts setting fire to fuel.

Shael The skin-to-skin contact from supporting Alein bolsters the spell and he slips into her mind while Julian is preparing the ‘kindling’.

DM Her thoughts are not coherent, and full of torment and uncertainty. A fearlessness rides the undercurrent, but that has been overwhelmed with madness.

Shael Caught between desire and need, Shael does the right thing — throughout the next few minutes, instead of rescuing the precious knowledge from this twisted realm, Shael uses his magic to guide Alein to touchstones in her memory. The buoys of sanity to bolster her strength in recovery, “It will be all right, do not forget your calling.”

DM The burning does not go well. The books and shelves seem treated to resist fire, and while the fire burns with careful tending, it does not spread, does not consume, and worst of all, gutters out when neglected.

Julian Julian frowns, and for a moment is at a loss, until a sudden thought strikes him. “If anything will catch in this wretched place…” his eyes gleam as he withdraws a carefully wrapped vial. “Shael, if you aren’t clear, get clear!” He makes a large pile of would-be fuels, and smashes the group’s last vial of super alchemist’s fire directly in the center.

Shael Shael and the others are waiting closer to the exit while Kryss and Julian attempt to arson. “Give it everything…” he shouts back, “…we’re clear and covering your retreat, we can’t see you though so hollar if something goes wrong!”

DM The vial speeds down with great force, but it never shatters. The floor yawns open, a massive maw swallows the vial, fuels and…not our heroes at all. A gulping sound, followed by a swallowing sound, followed by a massive belch.

Kryss Kryss tries both dragonfire and magic fire on the way out, but Julian is beginning to suspect the effort is doomed.

DM In the end, a few shelves are scorched, a few books are ash, but no inferno has been enacted.

Shael “Any luck?” with the lack of embers and glow behind the two, he already suspects the answer. He grins a bit wickedly and suggests, “I’ve got this idea…”

Julian Julian is all scowls, but he nods,. “All right, I’ll listen. On our way to the temple.”

Shael Shael frowns, “You already know my idea, don’t you.” he complains. As they limp out of the building he continues to ignore the stares of the common-folk. Stopping suddenly in the middle of the street, “Oh…” he looks back at the gaping maw into another dimension, “…I forgot the door is gone now… um…” he looks around at the folks, “…hey, don’t go in there.” he calls out to them.

DM The heroes escort the two women to…well, it’s not clear if they’re headed to the temple of Tal or the Shrine of Serra, but it hardly matters. The Reality Wrinkle’s secret masters are sure to strike back now, but our protagonists will be ready for them! Find out if that’s total bullshit next week!

The Speaker in Dreams 4
Brindinford, Goodmonth 1.4 BCY 14500

Session 21

DM When last we left our heroes, they were roaming the streets and taverns of Brindinford after having narrowly averted a wererat attack upon the annual and famed fair. But our noble protagonists have not been merely engaged in gluttony and revels. Rather they’ve been taking stock of the situation and the lay of the land. Will they seek out the wererats? Investigate the murders in Southspur? Or attend to their business with Rollo the Hammer’s dwarven kin? Read on and find out!

Kryss Kryss begins to grow bored in the alehouse and eyes the patrons and staff, looking for a chance to sell a few item from Fapa’s goods.

DM He’s quickly pointed towards the Chatterstreet Market, where most of the main commerce of the city takes place.

Kryss And so he makes his way there. Surely Shael will find him when they are finished with churchly things.

DM (Little does he know, True Believers, that his friends have already finished with churchly things and are already about in the town, even as he is!)

DM His wares are greeted with moderate interest. He frequently hears them compared (unfavorably) to Chalumma’s.

Kryss “Is Chalumma a teacher?” he asks. As he waits for an answer something sparks recognition in his mind. “Wait! The dwarf specialists! Im actually looking for them.”

DM Chalumma is Chalumma Stonehammer, an ancient dwarven smith, who has operated ‘Smithy’ for more years (and decades) than anyone around here can count. Directions to Smithy are forthcoming.

Kryss So Kryss seeks out Smithy and watches for awhile, trying to get the layout of the business before addressing anyone.

DM Smithy appears to be the most basic of basic smith shops, not at all what one would imagine a fancy dwarven craft empire to utilize. People of all walks of life come in and out, while Kryss watches.

Kryss After a snack he walks intot he small shop, ducking as he does so.

Dwarf A broad shouldered dwarf greets him in Common as he comes in. “Ho there, Stranger, Horken Stonehammer, what can I do for you?”

Kryss “Im looking for an appraisal.” Kryss replies, swinging the giant Shatterspike off his shoulder. “Do you mind?”

Horken The dwarf’s eyes widen as he sees the axe. “Shatterspike,” he whispers.

Kryss As he waits he looks around the shop, taking in every detail, picturing his own future forge to be something similar. “Indeed, What can you tell me about it?”

Julian Julian shows up right behind Kryss.

DM The forge is in the back of the shop, while weapons of every (sensible) shape and size line the walls. Several stands hold suits of armor as well. A rocking chair in the back near the forge holds a wizened dwarven woman, who squints through strained eyes.

Kryss Kryss sees Julian come in and nods, looking over him for Shael to be close behind.

Horken “Shatterspike was forged to destroy the armaments of a mighty orcish warlord, but eventually it was taken up in the Artifice War to combat the deadly dragon engines that were used.”

Kryss “Im curious as to know of any previous wielders. Im very into weapon history.”

Julian “Dragon engines?”

Horken “Ah, I know the wars, not the wielders. Maybe the sage up in Dry Lake could help you there, if the library here in Brindinford doesn’t turn up anything.”

Kryss “Yes, as he said they had armies dragging engines.”

Horken “Dragon engines were massive metal battle wagons that breathed acid and fire onto their foes.”

Kryss “Right and do you have any of those in stock?”

Horken Horken blinks at Kryss. “A…dragon engine?”

Julian Julian’s eyes light up. “Wow… I’ve been thinking about a war wagon for weeks now, but I never thought to make it breathe fire.”

Kryss “Well not a true dragon engine. Dragons dont exist after all,” he winks, “We need something sturdy that are untamed bear can pull. Im pretty sure I can make it breathe fire.” Kryss says.

Horken “A war wagon? It’s been quite some time since this shop has made one of those…Aunty, these gentlemen want a war wagon!” he calls over to the elderly woman in the rocking chair.

DM Chalumma is a wiry and muscular old dwarven matron, though she spends an increasing amount of time in her rocking chair, rather than bent over the forge as she gets older. Her face and arms are dark and leathery from the heat of the forge, and her eyes are sunk deep and surrounded by wrinkles.

Chalumma She snorts. “What fool nonsense are you going to do with a war wagon?” she asks the pair. Her voice is…surprisingly strong for her appearance.

Kryss “We plan to deliver raw metals and ingots between here and Blasingdell. We have our own half-mad bear so we’ll only need the wagon and the defenses. Unless you specialize in bear barding?”

Julian Julian nods. “We’ve fought mounted bandits on the road already, and I doubt they are the only ones. I’m told that they make a good moving fortress against cavalry.”

Kryss “Why with the ore Rollo will be moving from the reclaimed mines we’ll likely be back to order 5 or 10 more just to keep the carvans going.”

Chalumma “Well, well. Blassingdell and Rollo. Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a very long time.”

Julian “That’s right. I know that the fortress part probably works even better in a group, but you have to start somewhere, right?”

Kryss “He actually sends his greetings. Rollo that is. To you maam.”

Chalumma “Hmph. Well, a war wagon isn’t exactly cheap, you know. You have to build the base right, or it might as well haul hay…” she seems about to continue, when a troop of guards walk in.

Kryss “Well i mean a hay storage area would be good for the scouts horses, but I think I mentioned our bear.”

DM Their leader, a short haired, hook nosed woman with a big bastard sword clomps up to them.

Julian Julian is just starting to produce a drawing he had made by an aspiring young artist back in Blasingdell when the guards walk in. “Oh, hello.”

Kryss “I was thinking a leaf spring suspension would carry the weight the best.” Kryss continues, ignoring the guards.

Guard “Sorry to interupt, Chalumma, but I need to question these men. I understand you two were part of the fracas in Eastgate with the rats?”

Chalumma “Go ahead, Lieutenant Shella, it’s not like I have a business to run or anything during the busiest time of year.”

Julian “Oh… um. Sorry. Yes, we were.”

Kryss Kryss frowns at the interruption.

Lieutenant Shella “Am I bothering you, Pal?” she asks, staring at the giant.

Kryss “Yes, actually, I thought you had noticed. We were in the middle of discussing a business proposal. As the lovely lady mentioned, its the busiest time of the year.”

Lieutenant Shella “Because if I’m bothering you, we can go someplace less comfortable to talk. Like down to the station. I notice your weapon’s peacebond is broken.”

Kryss “Yes thats from protecting your citizens. Julian here can vouch for me. He’s a paladin so… his word is probably good.”

Julian “Well, what can we help you with?” Julian tries to get the conversation back on a good track.

Lieutenant Shella “A paladin, huh? But one ‘just passing through town’, hmm? I hope I don’t look as dumb as you seem to take me for.”

Kryss “I…” Kryss raises a finger to respond but stops when Julian shoots him a look.

Lieutenant Shella “You two are…adventurers.” She pronounces the word with a familiar sounding distaste.

Kryss “Im a weapons merchant.” Kryss replies.

Lieutenant Shella She punctuates her pronouncement by spitting on the floor. One of the other guards looks worriedly towards the Stonehammers and bends over and wipes it up.

Julian Julian shrugs easily. “Okay, so…”

Lieutenant Shella She sniffs at Julian’s peacemaking, but takes the bait. “I need detailed descriptions of these rats that got away, particularly if you saw any human traits. They’re likely transients, who’ll run off now that we’ve got their scent, but I don’t want to take any chances. Chances get people hurt.”

Kryss “I didnt get a good look at anything. I chased one into its hole after the fight but I lost it.”

Julian “Well, other than the dead one I didn’t get a great look either, but I’ll tell you what I remember.” Julian steps outside to give the description, hoping this will let Kryss and the dwarves continue their business.

Lieutenant Shella Shella does not leave and takes their statements in the store, scowling the entire time. When they are done, she stomps off. One of the guards pauses on the way out after her. “Don’t get too mad at her…she’s been in a funk ever since Forren popped smoke.”

Kryss “Popped smoke?” Kryss asks Julian.

Julian “Went missing.”

Kryss “Shame that… Good luck finding him.” Kryss waves to the guard and turns back to the counter.

Julian “In the cavalry, sometimes a scout would lay down smoke to hide his movements, you see…” Julian explains.

Guards “The Southspur murders are driving her nuts too. Too much for her to be dealing with all by herself. Have a better day, and don’t worry about the peacebond,” the guard nods and leaves.

Chalumma Chalumma leans her head over, causing her neck to creak. “You know, in light of those damn wererat’s attack in Eastgate, it seems to me that the bell tower is reported to be crawling with rats. Might be nothing, might be something. You know, I remember Young Revven, back when he kept the bells. He had a wee boy a bit back, Turvin. Is Revven still keeping the bells, Horken?”

Horken “No, Auntie. Revven died thirty years ago.”

Kryss “Must be a bad time of year to be a guard. Murders, missing people. Is festival time always like this?” Kryss asks their wizened host.

Julian “Bell tower, huh. Maybe we should check it out. Anyway, where was I… oh, yeah.” Julian produces his drawing. “I was thinking like this.”

Chalumma “There’s always a bit more violence, but in the past three months, plenty of folks have been complaining about the spike in crime over the last few months. Theft, protection rackets, vandalism…wererats makes sense all of a sudden.”

Julian “Come to think of it,” Julian rambles, “now I get why he added smoke and fire coming out of the wagon. I did wonder about that.”

Kryss “Oh no…” Kryss hangs his head and looks sideways at Julian. “Youre going to want to go check out the belltower… arent you?”

Julian “Well, yeah. I mean, we don’t have to go right away.”

Chalumma Chalumma takes the drawing, looking it over, nodding. “Need some hardwood to take a beating. Want to treat it too, make sure it can’t catch fire…”

Kryss Kryss sighs.

Chalumma “Get an iron core, and the wooden plates can be replaceable…”

Kryss “I was thinking an iron cage. Then just hang the plates on it.”

Chalumma “Need to protect the wheels…” Chalumma is way into the project.

Julian The pair lingers over the project for a long time, Kryss asking technical questions while Julian sorts out financial details. Afterwards – and after Julian makes a down payment – they take their leave for now, and Julian suggests that it would be a good time to investigate the bell tower. Kryss grumbles, but the pair head off. If Julian sees any of the town guards, he stops briefly to inform them of where they are headed and why. What with the mood the Lieutenant was in, it couldn’t hurt to do the small courtesy of keeping her in the loop.

DM Someone is following them: a big man with long black hair with a rapier at his belt. He may have companions. He has a false peacebond on the weapon.

Julian Julian changes direction casually, leaving the streets more crowded with fairgoers and looking for a quiet part of town or, even better, a winding alleyway where the party would be concealed from witnesses.

Kryss “The bell tower is clearly that way…” Kryss protests.

Julian “I’ve got a very good reason, Kryss.” Julian mutters.

DM The man following them is all too eager to head after them into the winding alley Julian locates as a location. Locally.

Julian “Look,” he speaks hurriedly as they duck out of sight, “we’re being followed by thugs. Probably want to kill us. They should be here any minute looking to jump us.”

Julian “We’ll jump them instead.” He invokes a blessing, and Kryss feels inspired.

Kryss “What?!” Kryss shakes the false peacebonding off his axe. “Jump them indeed!” he replies and goes into a half crouch behind a barrel. Master Xi slips out of Kryss cloak and finds a lofty perch to watch the battle.

DM Another man comes walking down the opposite side of the alley. He does not seem very surprised to see the pair. Almost as though he were expecting them. The original tail appears from around the corner, his rapier drawn.

Kryss “These are the guys?” Kryss asks under his breath.

DM …or rather, almost as though he were looking for them. He clearly didn’t expect to find them here, in this very spot. Holy shit!

Julian Perhaps he’ll be surprised to find his “unwitting” victim in his face with bared steel as he turns the corner, but that’s where Julian is. “Yeah.” Julian replies unnecessarily.

Kryss Shatterspike reaches out and hooks the other thug behind the knee and Kryss pulls hard.

DM The thug falls prone. Julian’s victim suffers serious wounds…that he looks shocked about as he begins to bleed. However, despite the assault, he doesn’t go down…these guys aren’t pushovers.

Julian “Your cursed flesh is no proof against a blessed weapon.” Julian states simply. “If you throw down your weapon and surrender, though, I’ll see your curse broken.”

Thug “Curse? You stupid flat tooth.”

Julian “Well then.” Lightbringer has a ready retort.

Kryss Kryss takes this opportunity to bring the flat of Shatterspikes head down on the other thug. Hard.

DM While Julian’s blade cuts open the thug, the second staggers under Shatterspike’s blow. It doesn’t appear he’ll be climbing to his feet after all. The thugs shift into rat form, furry and vile, but their attacks are feeble and clumsy. Kryss’s victim barely gets his rapier out of its sheathe, and Julian isn’t entirely sure if his foe is attacking him or the alley wall.

Julian “Tal confounds the sight of the heathen.” the paladin murmurs as he plies his blade.

DM The flat of his blade knocks the shit out of the wererat, who reverts back to human form as his face traces a trail of blood down the alley wall.

Kryss Shatterspike spins hypnotically, “Still fighting?” The axe lashes across his opponents rapier.

DM The axe snaps the rapier in half.

Wererat “Tal’s sack, I’m fucked,” the ratman shifts back to human form, holding his hands up weakly.

Kryss Kryss quickly binds the mans hands and strips him of any belongings. “Want to tell me why you were following us?” Kryss asks.

DM The ratman had studded leather armor, a rapier, and a cloak, in addition to two strange looking vials.

Kryss Kryss wraps these items up and passes them to Julian. “Dont wanna talk? Its ok. Shael can make you talk.”

Wererat “Payback. You fucked up our plan earlier. We can’t afford to look weak. Protection payments dry up.”

Kryss “Well now you pay protection to us! Isnt that right Julian?” Kryss asks.

Julian “Who’s we?” Julian produces a stained cloth and casually wipes blood from his blade, allowing the defeated enemy to see that his resistance is no protection here. “And what we most want is all the information you have in that head of yours.” he agrees with Kryss.

Ojo Ojo pads into the alleyway, Shael conspicuously absent. She hops onto a stoop and sits prettilly watching the tabluex.

Xi Xi spies the cat and diffidently swoops down back into his students cloak.

Wererat “We’re the East Street Rodents.”

Julian “Yeah, and?”

Wererat “We run shit around this town.”

Julian “Ran. But go on.”

Wererat “Look, you might take me out, but you can’t handle Squirm and the whole rat pack.”

Kryss Kryss snatches up the thug and throws him over his shoulder. “I think we should take him to the belltower and see if anyone wants to pay a ransom on him.” Kryss suggests.

Wererat “I’m not trying to sound bad, you settled me solid, but there’s just three of you.”

Ojo Ojo licks her lips hungrilly and meows loudly.

Julian Julian shakes his head quietly. To Kryss. “And how many are there of you?”

Wererat “Thousands,” the thug answers.

Kryss Kryss’ eyes widen at Julian.

DM Given the town holds a few thousand, and the bell tower is in no way capable of holding that many, this sounds like bullshit.

Julian Julian looks unimpressed. “You counting the ordinary rats too then? Because you know that’s not what I’m asking.”

Kryss “He doesnt know.” Kryss says, dropping the ratman, “He only knows what they tell the peons so they can get their jobs done.”

Julian “Cat got your tongue?” The paladin glances at their new visitor.

Wererat The rat man licks his lips thoughtfully. “I’m a dead man if I go back to them. There’s rats and there’s rats, you know?”

Kryss “Youre a dead man anyway. Unless we take you to the temple for healing.”

Julian “Plus.”

Kryss “Im for slashing his hamstrings and leaving him here for the alleycats to find.”

Julian “Say that after our little encounter here, we show up at your secret hideout in the bell tower. How are they gonna THINK we found out?”

Shael Ojo meows in salty protest, hopping off the stoop to glare hungrilly at the rat.

Wererat He gulps. “There’s like…ten or so in the gang.”

Julian “Way I see it, you’d better be hoping and praying we win, and telling us everything we need to know to help us, because if we lose, well, theyre gonna think they have a rat on their hands anyway.”

Julian Julian nods as the ratman turns helpful.

Kryss “Whos in charge?”

Wererat “They live in the upper floors. Let the watchman do his thing and he don’t bother us. Squirm’s the leader.”

Shael Ojo flattens her ears and growls plaintifully as the ratman turns helpful. She retreats back to her stoop.

Julian “Tell me about Squirm.”

Kryss Kryss stomps off to bind the other ratman.

Wererat “He’s…a bravo from the south. Real flashy. No one to fuck with unless you want two feet of silver in your heart.”

Julian “Does he wear armor?”

Wererat “That’s a weird question. Yeah, he does.”

Julian Julian shrugs. “Got my reasons. Metal?”

Wererat Shake of the head. “Like mine.”

Julian “Hmph.” The paladin scowls, and turns to a few other questions. Are the wererats active more by day or night at the tower? How well are they armed? Is it ten including the three lost so far – leaving seven – or ten more?

DM More active by night, armed with short swords, rapiers and crossbows. Tenish, he doesn’t know everyone…there could be a few more than ten.

Julian “All right. Kryss, I’m going to bring them in. He can tell our friend the Lieutenant what he just told us.”

Kryss Kryss collects up the thugs and tosses them back over his shoulders. “Lead on.” he says.

Shael As the pair move off with their prisoners, Ojo pads in the other direction to continue her reconaissance.

Julian Julian sets off. If he can, he tosses a coin to a street urchin to run on ahead and let the guards know they are coming. Probably best not to just barge in all bloody like.

DM The guard barracks is all the way over in West Hill. The urchin nods and rushes off to do as Julian asks.

Julian Julian is indefatigable in his relentless trek across town. The distance may be great, but he traveled for days to get here, and will not be deterred. Or of course, maybe he could just attract the attention of one of the patrols.

DM Heading into West Hill, the party notes the drop off in revelry. They turn up the street towards the barracks when everything goes to shit. For an instant, the very fabric of space seems to warp. Distances stretch to infinity or close to nothing, straight lines warp and wave, and vertigo assaults your senses. In the eye of this insane storm, space opens up, and a pool of thick blue slime oozes out onto the street. As your vertigo subsides, a huge wormlike creature rises up from the pool. Its translucent, purplish skin reveals strands of pulsing organs beneath it, and a ring of hooked tentaclelike limbs surrounds a gaping lampreylike mouth.

Kryss Kryss drops both ratmen and readies his axe. “Julian!” he warns.

Julian “What the…” Julian reaches for his sword. “I did NOT expect this!”

Kryss “One more thing,” Kryss growls as he watches for an opening to attack.

Shael Shael is already at the corner ahead of them leaning against the wall to catch his balance. He clutches a book which he stores once he regains his equilibrium.

Julian “Whatever it is, it doesn’t belong!” Julian advances on the creature. He breaks left, seeking to draw its attention so that Kryss can come in from the right.

Shael Shael seems unsurprised to have run into his compatriots, and only mildly taken aback by the… thing. “That’s a thing.” he identifies nonchalantly as he moves around it in a wide arc his companions feel divine blessing settle upon them.

DM The creature lunges forward, lashing out at Julian and Shael with its flailing tentacles. The creature wraps both of them up with its tentacles.

Kryss Kryss roars as his friends disappear beneath the tentacle and charges in.

DM His blow causes purplish ichor to pour from the wound he inflicts. He doesn’t stop there though, hacking nearly halfway through the creature. It is of course, concerning then, that a second creature erupts forth from the street a short distance away.

Julian Julian hacks at the tentacles menacing him with Lightbringer, even as Kryss and his axe wreak immense destruction together.

DM Lightbringer’s blows cause the creature to almost flicker and fade, as though the holy blade and the beast were not extant on the same wavelength. The second worm is even longer than the first, over twenty five feet in length.

Kryss Kryss looks around for any support from the guards.

DM The guards are nowhere in sight.

Shael Shael grumbles as he is forced to resheath his blade, unable to close with the creature while he is fending off and being tripped up by its tentacles. “A fragile cocoon of dreaming will, bend and mend the flesh until…”

DM The first creature lashes out, its tentacles a cyclone of fury. It beats ineffectually against Kryss, and Shael and Julian do fend off the additional attacks aimed their way as the tentacles holding them squeeze. The second creature spits a blast of acid at Kryss. It splatters pointlessly on his armor.

Kryss Kryss stretches to his full height out of the pile of gore and brings his axe back down, disappearing again into the mess. Is he laughing?

DM He might be, because the creature’s structure collapses, releasing Julian and Shael as it disintegrates into goo.

Julian Julian struggles out from under the goo, reaching for his javelins as the other creature is still far off.

DM The javalins strike the creature and stick in its flesh. Red and pink striped blood flows from the wound.

Kryss Kryss takes a second to wipe goo from his eyes and look around to make sure the ratmen are still bound and secure.

DM They are lying very still where he left them.

Shael Shael’s wounds mend themselves as he steps out from the alcove to join his companions. “Helluva thing.” he suggests, examining the felled creature while his companions move to destroy the second one.

DM The creature spits acid at Julian from afar. It hits his armor and sizzles, but does him no damage.

Kryss Kryss quickly closes the gap between him and the worm, giving his companions a chance to deal damage from a distance.

Julian Julian runs forward, imparting momentum to several more javelins as he follows Kryss.

DM The creature looks like a pincushion from all the javalins sticking in it.

Shael Shael jogs forward with Julian, patting him on the back and saying, “You’ve got this.” with a bright smile.

Shael “Kryss, on your left!”

DM They all see the tentacle wrap around Kryss. They see it bite through his armor. And then…they see Kryss ram his axe into the creature, not at all where they thought he was. No wounds. No tentacles wrapped around him. The axe rebounds off the creature’s flesh.

Shael Shael smiles innocently, whistling quietly he pats the book he stashed in his satchel at the beginning of the fight.

Kryss Kryss hooks the beard into the side of the worms mouth and charges around its side, dragging the razor sharp blade through the hide. Shatterspikes beard that is.

DM Blood sprays into the air, floating slowly down to the ground like feathers.

Julian As Kryss moves around hte creature’s flank to the north, Julian comes in from the south with Lightbringer.

DM The holy blade has the same effect as it did on the last one, although flowers sprout up where the creature’s blood falls.

Shael Shael just kind of loiters while the two ninja about. He purses his lips and mutters to himself, “This is going to be a bad idea.” and after a long sigh he squints fiercly at the monster.

DM The creature…has no thoughts. It’s an empty void of simple hunger.

Shael The sigh is repeated, this one with considerably more relief. “Good news!” he whispers jubialantly to himself.

DM Its tentacles spin out in a spiral, failing to strike either of the warriors harrying it.

Kryss Kryss sets his axe to work in a blur.

DM More of the creature is exposed, as chunks of its flesh fall to the ground. Some of them turn into frogs and begin hopping away.

Kryss Kryss stops swinging. “This doesnt make any sense.”

Julian “It’s like what we saw on the road!” Julian keeps his eyes on the beast as he speaks.

DM The worm thing flickers, crackling as the holy blade cuts through its essence.

Shael With a bit of a hum, Shael dances forward while unsheathing his longsword. Lunging forward with Sunstrider, he turns his head away and covers his eyes. “Poke!” he declares.

DM The covering his eyes…a mark of a rank amateur? Or maybe the action of a skilled diviner who sees the future? The worm explodes into green goo and dissolves before them all, raining down stinging splashes of gore.

Julian Julian stops, and looks at Shael’s sword. Then at his sword. Then at Shael’s sword. “Huh.”

Shael Standing upright, Shael flips the sword around to flick the farsider ichor from it and jumps up in the air, “Dun dun dun dun, dunn dunn, dundundund!”

Kryss “He’s been training. I could probably give you some tips if you like.” Kryss suggests.

DM The worms defeated, the crowd (such as it is, True Believers) goes wild. One of the bystanders remarks on the time it took the guards to get there. Another scoffs at this. “Guards? I’m shocked that Alein didn’t show up…she’s usually…on top of things better than this.” When the heroes go to check the thugs, they are staring blankly up at the sky. Drool runs from their parted lips. What has become of their prisoners? Why wasn’t Alein here to save the day? What the holy fuck were those worms? Find out next week, Loyal Readers!

The Speaker in Dreams 3
Brindinford, Goodmonth 1.4 BCY 14500

Session 20

DM When last we left our heroes, they were traveling towards Brindinford, and had amassed quite the caravan. Rosal, the Ruby Knight, Klysandral the renowned paladin of Tal, Ibn Ad Japher, pacifist tale teller from Alqadim, Devis, half elven bard, Ember, martial artist, Lidda, halfling thief…

Lidda “I am not a thief!” Lidda exclaims, breaking the silence.

Devis Devis blinks and looks at her oddly. “No one said you were.”

Kryss “I never made such an accusation. Im simply saying that boar meat was sitting here when I got up.” Kryss replies tartly.

Lidda “I…must have dozed off, I apologize,” Lidda scowls from her dream.

Kryss “… that does nothing to determine what happened to the meat I left here.”

Ibn Ad Japher Ibn looks up guiltily. “I ah…had thought that it was community fare, good Kryss, I apologize…”

Shael “It was meant to be.” Shael says wryly.

Kryss “Of course its to share. That was the best part though.” Kryss pouts. “Everyone knows I get the eyes.”

DM As the city draws into view, the two knights ride up to the front of the caravan, and confer with the giant and (unrevealed) mage.

Rosal “This is where we part ways, my friends,” Rosal smiles softly.

Shael “I hope our paths cross again.” Shael says sadly, “Thank you both for your training, as poor a pupil as I was.”

Kryss “When will you be moving on to look into the elf problem?” Kryss asks.

Kly Kly grunts.

Rosal “We intend to circle around the woods, hopefully in a couple days we’ll make Almaaz.”

Kryss “Perhaps we will see you there.” Kryss suggests.

Rosal “Perhaps,” Rosal agrees noncommitally.

Shael “We’ve got plans after the festival.” Shael reminds Kryss gently, “Unfinished business, remember?”

Rosal “Well, may your paths be true and bright until we do meet again,” Rosal smiles.

Kryss “I defer to you,” Kryss replies. “I will only receive my reward on your favorable report, after all.” He says to Shael.

Shael “Be safe.” Shael urges, waving jauntilly.

DM Kly grunts again and Rosal waves back as the two split off.

Kryss “Will the rest of you be staying in town as well?” Kryss asks their other tagalongs.

Ibn Ad Japher Ibn nods. “I have business I hope to conduct there,” he offers.

Shael “Anything we could help with?”

Kryss “I need to find a good spot to park the wagon. Somewhere with good foot traffic.” Kryss says.

Ibn Ad Japher Ibn laughs. “I am but the humble middle man, I fear, I but hope to arrange a meeting of talent with employment. We shall see if I am successful.”

Devis Devis doesn’t respond, as the trio had explained nearly a week ago they were intending to visit the festival and then move on to Dry Lake.

DM The town of Brindinford occupies a low hill beside the Brinding River. Crenellated stone walls, interrupted by tall watchtowers, surround the buildings, but the life of the town spills beyond its walls today. Colorful carts and wagons, flags and ribbons, and people of all sorts line the road for 100 years beyond the gate. Dozens of halflings in bright colored costumes are directing most activities. A busy, lively hum of noise rises from the fair, and the smells of roasting meats, exotic spices and cut flowers fill the air. At the outskirts of the sprawling fair, an old woman hunches on the ground, clutching a wooden bowl and looking up at passers-by with a pleading look in her eyes.

Shael Shael makes certain to deposit a gold coin in the bowl.

Old Woman “Oh, Tal light your path, my good man,” she mutters to Shael.

Kryss Kryss stops and looks in the lady’s bowl. “What is this?” he asks Shael.

Old Woman “…and Serra guard your way,” she whispers, almost too quiet for Shael to hear.

Kryss “Did this woman do you a service?”

Shael Shael nods. He explains to Kryss, “She is in need, we help those in need.”

Kryss “Ah. Right.” Kryss turns to the woman. “What need do you require?” he demands.

Shael “Mistress, can you advise us where we should stay? Any guidance would be appreciated.” he smiles warmly.

Old Woman The woman’s tattered clothing offers a suggestion to the giant, although the woman does not say as much, merely shaking her bowl at the passersby.

Kryss Kryss shrugs and follows his companion’s lead, dropping a gold coin into her bowl.

Old Woman Her crazed stare sharpens for a moment. “Beware those who hear whispers in their dreams! They sleep fitfully now, awaiting the Speaker’s plans!”

Shael Shael’s mouth purses, his countenance tightening, and he looks to the city with concern. “We’ll stop at the first place with room; I’ll spend the evening finding where we’re staying for the rest of the festival.”

DM Near the gates, the movement of the throng of people making their way inside the walls slows to a crawl. Four town guards, wearing bright red tabards, give each visitor a careful look, though they seem relaxed and friendly. The guards can be seen peacebonding weapons.

Kryss Kryss waits for his turn at the gate.

DM The next visitor to reach the gate, just ahead of the party, is a seven foot tall burly man, his clothes clearly marking him as a foreigner from the north. As the guards gently ask him to peace-bond his greataxe, he angrily pulls it from its place on his back, shouting with his thick accent, “You may tie down my father’s blade if you can wrestle from my hands!” He assumes a defensive posture while the guards hesitate, taken aback.

Shael Shael notices the bonding ahead and prepares payment for the service passing word amongst all the others that he’ll cover the costs. Shael frowns and approaches, “Sir?” he calls out to the man, his magic subtly reaching to test his thoughts. “I understand your hesitation, the guards cherish the honor otherwise I would bind my own weapon as well… but, if you’d rather come aside with me I can share the secret symbols of peace-bonding?”

DM Shael detects a red wave of anger rising from the man, and he’s not going to be able to talk this guy down.

Shael With alarm, Shael advises Kryss, “Berserker! Take him down, Kryss!” he pauses before realizing, “Just knock him out as quick as possible.”

Shael Shael sprints around the man to interpose himself between the berserker and the guards.

Kryss Kryss seems content to allow the guards to handle their own business until Shael’s words draw him into the fray. The giant lashes out at the other giant with a crash.

DM One of the guards grabs the horn from his belt and blows a blast, while the other backs into a defensive posture.

Shael “No, it’s fine! We’ll handle it, he’s not a danger – he just doesn’t know any better!”

DM Citizens back up in alarm, while Ember and her friends sprint towards the rising danger. Julian has hung back, trying to find a good place to set up the wagon with Bear…there’s no way the town will be allowing him inside.

Kryss Kryss blacksmithing muscle ripple as he holds the other berseker in a reverse choking manouver. “Shall I break his neck then?” he asks.

Guard “No! Don’t kill him!” the guard yells.

Shael “Oh my gods! No, just…” he addresses the berserker, “Please, calm down.. please? We mean you no harm, we want to help.”

DM The man, unable to get free of Kryss, tries to cut at the giant’s knees with his axe.

Kryss Kryss raises his leg and the axe flies past.

Shael With a growl, Shael darts forward with the katana flying out of its sheath with a speed inspired by Kly’s deadly training to disarm the axe from the berserker.

DM The axe spins away from the man.

ShaelSTOP OR I WILL DESTROY THE AXE!” He booms angrilly.

Kryss Kryss reaches a free hand into his belt pouch and pulls out a length of rope with which to bind the berseker.

Berserker The man bursts free as Kryss takes a hand off of him. “RARARRRRGGHHHHH!”

Shael “Ack!”

Kryss Kryss releases the mans neck and brings his shield around to meet his head as he spins away.

Berserker The berserker shakes off the blow as he begins frothing at the mouth.

Guards The guards tackle the man, wrestling him to the ground and clamping manacles on him.

Shael Shael stands upright and quickly sheaths his katana, holding his hands away from his weapons as the guards intervene.

Kryss Kryss picks up the berserkers axe and inspects it.

Julian Julian wanders up. “Well, I found a place for the… what happened?”

Kryss “Found an axe!” Kryss says happily.

DM The berserker screams and tries to bite the guards, who haul him upright. “Thank you for your help, Sir, can you hand that over?” one of the guards requests of Kryss.

Shael “They’ll have to impound it, Kryss.” he nods to the guards politely.

DM The axe IS very nice, to Kryss’s trained eye.

Julian "Wow, I guess it was his before? He doesn’t seem too happy about it.

Kryss “Looks like the handle is twisted steel with a reindeer scale. Very nice.” he hands the axe to the guard. “Please pass along my compliments.”

Guard “We’ll give him some time in the tank to cool off before the judge sees him.”

Kryss “Right, well, I have this axe, and my shield. The armor has spikes, do you need to work on that as well? Here’s my javelins and hand axes…” Kryss begins placing a myriad of weapons on the table to the guards inspection.

Kryss “I’m a weapons maker you see, and Im hoping to sell a few items.”

DMDEATH BEFORE DISHONOR!” the berserker yells as the guards take him away. One of the guards turns to the party. “Hey, thanks for the help, not a lot of people are willing to step in like that…ah, sir, sir? Please wait for that, until our reinforcements get here.”

Kryss “Ah, grand.” he keeps his place at the table but continues laying items on it.

Shael Shael nods, “Sorry for the trouble, just wish we could have done more.” he watches the man depart saddly, “It’s hard for some the first time they come to the cities… but I guess I don’t have to tell y’all.”

Julian “Just how much dishonor was he talking about, anyway?” Julian wonders mostly to himself.

Guard The guard turns a last time before leaving. “My brother owns an inn right here in Eastgate. Go to the Shield & Shingle just up the way and tell him Joster sent you. He’ll give you a room for the length of the fair, no charge.”

Shael “Ah..!” Shael is about to protest but instead says, “..yeah, thank you.”

DM The guards’ replacements come running up and take over the process of peacebonding. All of Kryss’s worn weapons require the process, and those of his for sale require safe packing and wrapping in storage. Some people mutter and grumble about the time the process takes.

Kryss “How do you expect me to display my wares if they are packed away?!” Kryss protests.

Shael Shael delivers a bag of silver to pay for the service as he ushers his caravan through the gate. “Thank you, sirs. Thank you.”

Joster “Sir, once you get a weapon sale license with the guild, they will inform you on all the proper standards for displaying your wares.”

DM Kryss looks like a giant present with all the wrappings on his gear.

Kryss “A guild?” he looks at Shael, “a guild?” he asks again, trying to jugles the items back where they belong.

Shael Shael chuckles, “We’ll find out. Beaurocracy, it’s a city thing.”

DM The streets of Brindinford bustle with activity as the fair engulfs the main street through town. The main street, none too wide in the first place, is narrowed further by the carts and booths lining its sides. Fortunately, wagons are barred, but pedestrians clog the road effectively enough. Artisans, entertainers, and merchants staff the fair booths, calling to potential customers and trumpeting their wares. Above it all, two notable features define the town’s landscape. A walled keep crowns the hill at the western end of the town and in the center of town a huge bell tower stands like a sentry.

Kryss As they march through town Kryss keeps a sharp eye out for competing weaponsmiths.

Julian Ten minutes later, Julian steps up. “Please be cautious and contemplate the virtues of Tal as you handle Lightbringer,” he requests as he draws forth his sword and places the weapon on the table, where it glows visibly with the holy light of Tal. “A touch of the blade’s metal can burn the impure.” His other weapons are not so dramatic, nor nearly as long to deal with as Kryss’s, and he is soon on his way after the other two.

DM The guards do so reverantly, informing Julian that if he visits the Temple of Tal, the Sun’s Champion can grant him a special dispensation for his weapon.

Kryss “Shael,” Kryss mentions, “should I have a set of manacles?”

Julian Julian thanks them and is on his way.

Shael “Maybe, but I don’t think that sort of thing is bound to happen often.”

Kryss “Lets just set up right here,” Kryss suggests, as the party passes a vacant booth. “No one is using it.”

Shael “Let’s find an inn first, then we’ll put word out to find the guilds and get permission.” he advises with a grin.

DM He suddenly finds the vacant booth is infact occupied, by a halfling fortune teller who glares at him. “I paid for my guild permit, you do the same!”

Julian “I think the Shield and Shingle is right up there…” Julian points.

Kryss “Where, pray tell, can I find this permit?” Kryss asks.

Shael Shael places a silver between himself and the hobbit.

Kryss “You arent even selling anything,” Kryss complains, “My wares deseerve the space more.”

DM A shout from the middle of the busy fair spreads into an expanding ripple of cries and screams, accompanied by loud crashes that sound like carts and booths being overturned. These ripples of sound immediately transform into a wave of people as bystanders try to escape whatever is wrecking havoc behind them.

Julian “Hey!” Fortune teller and inn forgotten, Julian runs towards trouble.

Kryss Kryss looks to Shael and follows Julian.

Shael “Really?” Shael protests and follows behind quickly. Very quickly. He slides ahead of the others in little time, dipping and ducking – barely touching the oncoming, terror-stricken commoners fleeing the scene.

DM A scream goes up from a woman and suddenly cuts off.

JulianCLEAR A PATH, IN THE NAME OF TAL!” Julian’s voice booms with divine power above the din. The paladin uncovers his head and the shining star on his brow also alerts people in his way that a knight is coming through.

DM People fleeing panic around Julian, slowing him down, but making way for Kryss. Oddly enough, those people trip in an ideal direction, and Julian isn’t slowed after all.

Kryss Kryss follows the little paladin, physically lifting people and gently setting them aside when they end up in his way.

DM Another scream is cut off abruptly.

Shael Hearing the screams cut off abrubtly, Shael redoubles his speed urgently hurrying onto the scene.

Julian Julian pushes on forward.

Kryss Kryss continues following, apologizing as he goes, trying his best to keep up. He listens, trying to pinpoint the screaming.

DM As they approach the scene, they find utter chaos. Pushcarts are on their sides, booths smashed, goods strewn all over the cobblestone…a handful of merchants are backed up by snapping, rabid rats, while four hulking rat creatures are continuing to tear things up. One of them stabs a fleeing woman in the back, while another one bites into a baby’s face.

Shael Shael advances while readying his shield, he charges one of the rat-men and rams into him with the shield.

DM The blow rings off the rat-man’s skull, but it doesn’t appear to have damaged him at all. He hisses, pissed, and the rats swivel towards Shael.

Shael “That’s right, ugly. Time for a real fight unless you wanna find whatever misbegotten horror spawned you and crawl back to her.”

Julian Julian undoes the peace bonds on his weapon and moves to confront the rat-creature looming over the wounded woman, Lightbringer raised.

Julian He calls encouragement to Shael and to Kryss in his booming voice.

Kryss “Your pardon maam,” Kryss says as he moves toward the trouble. “Excuse me sir. Im so very sorry.”

DM The rat pack converges on Shael, snapping and biting with their disease laden teeth. The rest of them attack the giant and paladin, shooting with crossbows those that are too far away to bite and slash.

KryssACK! ARROWS!!” Kryss complains.

Shael Shael shakes one of the rats off his foot and growls, “Lucky shot.” he claims and begins twisting and dodging and pushing the creatures off balance wherever he can. The mage is still unarmed, relying on his magic and dexterity to save him any more nibbles.

Julian Julian wields Lightbringer against the armed rat creature before him.

DM Unlike Shael’s shield, Julian’s blade cuts open the wererat before him, exposing guts and bone. It shrieks in pain and surprise.

Julian “Don’t know what the hell they are, Kryss, but Shatterspike should kill them!” Julian reports as he draws blood.

Kryss Kryss reaches down and grabs the closest rat, attempting to squeeze it to death.

DM Its head pops off.

Kryss Kryss wipes his hand off and races to Shaels side.

DM Bolts fly off, this time bouncing off Kryss’s helm and flying into the crowd. The rat pack attacks again, but Shael employs his magic and Rosal’s training to fend them off. Julian is caught by the bleeding wererat’s short sword.

Shael He continues to dodge, dip, duck, dive, and dodge. Noticing Kryss heading his way he calls, “No, get the other two!” still seeming unconcerned with his circumstance at the center of attack from so many vermin.

Julian Julian presses the assault against the wounded wererat.

DM Its head spins off its shoulders. The other wererats skid to a halt.

Kryss Kryss pulls to a stop at Shael’s direction and turns the other way, ripping the peacebonding off of Shatterspike in a single pull.

DM As the rats lunge in, the wererat flees. Shael reaches out and sparks fly between the creature, burning a scar into its back. It whips its head around, stunned at the power, but it keeps running. The other two wererats turn and flee as well.

Shael “Capture one if you can!” Shael shouts.

Kryss Kryss tries to keep one in sight as it flees.

Julian Julian hurries to Shael’s aid.

Shael Watching his quarry flee, Shael grumbles quietly to himself. “Julian, on the way!” he dives over the rats and lures them towards his companion. Turning around, once he meets his friend half-way he stomps his foot down on one of the rats to pin it in place.

DM It is grappled. Julian kills two rats with a single blow of his sword. The grappled rat fights back.

Shael Shael stomps down hard on the rat as it digs its teeth into his ankle.

DM It squeaks, but is tougher than it looks. Lightbringer clips it in half though.

DM Meanwhile, Kryss charges after the rats, which split up and attempt to lose him.

Kryss he tries to choose the bigger of the two, assuming that to be the leader.

DM The rat keeps ducking out of sight, but Kryss flings obstacles aside to follow. Finally the rat disappears out of sight…and does not reappear. Kryss looks around, commiting the site to memory.

DM Meanwhile, back at the scene of the crime…

Julian As the last rat dies, Julian rushes to aid the wounded woman, dropping to a knee to lay on hands.

DM The guards do not show up for over ten minutes.

Julian Julian takes charge of the scene in their absence, organizing bystanders to help the wounded to the temple of Tal where they can, he hopes, seek aid for their affliction.

Kryss Kryss returns shortly, eating a giant turkey leg.

Kryss “This festival is amazing. Battles, arguements, food! Im having a wonderful time.”

Shael Shael works as best he can, but he is clearly not a medic. He spends most of his time seeking out the mentally scarred and calming them as much as he can — when Julian calls for his aid in healing the worst, he provides that as well.

DM Shael and Julian organize the bystanders, a few of them grumbling but no outright defiance, into a troupe that heads to the temple.

Kryss “Perhaps the temple would allow us to set up shop out front in order to help arm their congregation against the rat menace?” Kryss asks.

DM It is a large, freestanding building made entirely of stone. The building consists of an enormous dome flanked by two smaller, dual story wings. The main double doors are massive affairs of stone, and unlocked.

Julian “Perhaps, but first things first.” Julian goes in ahead to warn the clergymen that there are wounded on the way.

Kryss Kryss attempts to replace the binding on his weapon while he waits out front.

DM The temple is in the Silver Hill neighborhood, which is clearly the richer side of town. As the grubby peasants approach, guards are watching, but seem to allow the procession without trouble. As they enter the temple, Father Forgrim greets them.

Shael Shael nods respectfully to the guards, he steps out of the procession to report the trouble on the other side of town to them before rejoining.

Father Forgrim “My children, what brings you to the House of Tal this day?”

DM A fierce looking woman clad in full plate stands a step behind him.

Kryss Kryss takes in the immediate surroundings, admiring the fashion boutiques and jewlery shops. He samples any tastings offered and generally loiters around the front of the temple square.

Julian “Bad news, Father, an attack on the festival by monsters. Wererats. We have nine wounded.”

Father Forgrim “Wounded…?” the father trails off as he realizes the thrust of Julian’s words.

Shael Shael mourns, “More were killed before we could save them.” he looks crestfallen.

Julian Julian nods. “Can you help?”

Shael “We’ll make a donation if it is necessary…”

Father Forgrim “That…will not be necessary,” he says gravely. “But…we do not have the resources to treat such a large scale infection.”

Shael “What is needed?”

Father Forgrim “I alone in the temple can offer the proper prayers required, but seeking such a blessing is taxing…it would take me a week to cleanse you all.”

Julian Julian closes his eyes wearily. "A quarantine for those waiting to be healed? “When is the next full moon?” This last to Shael, who pays more attention to such things.

Shael He looks over those assembled and nods, “We will cover the expenses of housing and food.” glancing back at Julian, “Not for some time, why?”

Woman “You could expose them to wolf’s bane,” the woman offers. “It’s poisonous, but it can destroy the infection without leaving the temple devoid of its most powerful prayers.”

Julian “Is it a sickening poison, or deadly?” Julian does not know much about herbs.

Shael Shael nods, “I wouldn’t tax the temple any more than necessary; I will take the wolfsbane.”

Woman “A potentially deadly dose would be required.”

Julian The four discuss the problem further.

Shael Shael frowns and nods slowly, “I… should perhaps rest and dress my other wounds first.”

Julian Julian gives a wry grin. “Let me take it now. If I survive it well enough, Shael, you’ll know you can endure it tomorrow.”

DM The commonfolk are sent to jail cells to await the priests for their healing. Julian is given his dose of belladona. As is Shael. The herb is bitter and causes them to vomit profusely, but the curse is expelled with their heaving guts.

Julian Once he feels the nausea subside, Julian rubs his face. Numb, and tingling with a needley sensation. “Give me another few doses, Father, in case I should need them again.” He’d explained in the meantime that a few wererats got away. “I’m going to go looking for the rest.”

Shael Slowly, carefully, Shael works on bandaging the rest of his wounds as he regains his equilibrium.

Kryss Kryss eventually grows bored of waiting for his companions and leaves to find respite in the nearest tavern.

DM Father Forgrim provides Julian with three doses of belladona, along with instructions to seek out a few healers if he needs to purchase more.

Shael Despite Forgrim’s protestations, Shael presses a heavy bag of currency upon the clergyman. He nods respectfully past him towards the woman, “Thank you… thank you both.”

Julian “Indeed. I am in your debt. But now there’s work to do. Come on, Shael.” Julian offers his friend a hand. “I’m going to stake out the festival. Maybe find a high point to watch from.”

Julian “They night be scared and lying low. Bet they weren’t expecting Durgeddin blades that could cut through their cursed flesh.” The paladin is grinning tightly as they leave the temple. “But if they strike again, this time I’ll be ready.”

Shael “Chances are they’ll be in the poorer parts of town, why don’t we check the sewers… are there sewers?”

DM It strikes the pair that they really don’t know much about Brindinford at this point.

Julian “Huh…” Julian tries to find a reason why that isn’t a good idea.

DM Perhaps a few hours getting familiar with the place wouldn’t be out of order.

Julian He fails. “…yeah, sewers.” he grumbles. “That’s probably right. Let’s go investigate.”

Shael “We’re so new to town, we should get the lay of the land… honestly. And we can’t be the only people capable of hunting this threat to ground, we should alert Ember and the others and see if the town guard has already mobilized at all.” he glances at Julian, “Did you get dispensation from the temple for Lightbringer yet?”

DM A few hours walking the streets of the city and sharing drinks at the fair is able to uncover quite a bit of useful information about the town, such as its districts, its lack of an underground sewer system, etc. About half an hour into their investigative carousing, a troupe of guards comes marching up, after someone points their way. “We understand you two were involved in the fracas earlier today?”

Shael “Which one, Sirs?” Shael addresses them respectfully.

DM One of the guards whispers to the leader. “Ah, right. Svenson’s arrest. We were referring to the attack in Eastgate. Of the merchants. You were named as people of interest. We understand you bared steel?”

Julian “I did. My friend did not.”

DM “Killed one person, that was you as well?” Julian suspects that the body’s rat features did not linger long after death.

Shael Shael blinks and looks between the two with a frown.

Julian “Also correct. Guards were arriving on scene as we cared for the wounded. Did they tell you the details?”

DM “Somewhat, although it seems a bit confused. Can you give us your account?”

Julian “I can. Well, I had best start with my name, Julian, and my service, which is to Tal since I left the cavalry…” Julian describes the attack and his role in it.

Shael Shael offers a very detailed account of the attack including descriptions of the assailants, “We hurried to the scene of the attack as quickly as we could, but several were wounded or killed still before we could aid… those who were surviving are at the temple awaiting treatment from the clergy. Were there any other injuries? We can help pay for treatment for any who were injured fleeing the scene if they cannot afford it themselves.”

DM “Alright, so just to sum up. The human corpse we found belonged to a rat creature you two fought? And the rat corpses were with him as well. And other rat creatures fled the scene?”

Julian "Yes. Wererats, or “lycanthrope” as they called it at the temple."

Shael With a nod Shael asserts, “We’re trying to track them down as best we can… but from what Julian says they could have shifted back to human form… which is a thing they do apparently?” He looks to his companion for confirmation.

DM “You two acted in defense of others and the city, we’ll put the word out that you aren’t to be harassed for unbound weapons. Just make sure you don’t leave the scene of a crime and don’t kill any citizens. Monsters are fair game.”

Julian “Thank you. We will be sure to keep you informed of anything else we learn.”

DM “Appreciate it. Lieutenant Shella is in charge for right now, until Captain Forren returns.”

Shael Shael frowns in concern, “Captain Forren? Where are they?”

DM “The Lieutenant is at the Keep, Captain Forren hasn’t been around for a few days. He might be on leave, officers don’t really tell us rank and file much though.”

Shael “Oh.” Shael nods and asks, “Svenson was the berserker at the gate? Any chance I could get in to see him? Maybe I can help habilitate him to city life?”

Julian “He looked pretty nuts to me.” Julian mutters his opinion quietly.

DM “Ah, probably not, he’s going to see the magistrate in the morning, he’ll get a fair shake. You can see him after that, assuming he’s released.”

Shael “Is it a public court? Can I view the hearing?”

DM The guard shrugs. “Don’t see why not.”

Shael Shael nods, “Thank you, Sir. Sincerely… let us know if we can help at all; we’re here on business, but no reason not to lend a hand when we can.” he smiles comfortingly.

DM The guards nod and move off.

DM The hours pass quickly. An off duty guard, more than a little intoxicate, mentions that she expects the baron will make a speech first thing in the morning. “You’ll hear those trumpets,” she mentions. “And don’t believe them about Forren being on leave. He’s a straight laced prick. No way would he go off the day before the fair begins. He was over in Chatterstreet last…I’ll bet he’s got a mistress there.”

DM “Well, he ought to be in Southspur!” yells a sullen man. “Damn murders down there going on in broad damn daylight, and no one gives a shit, do they, because it’s the shit end of town!” He slams his mug on the table and storms out of the building.

Shael At the appropriate time, Shael summoned Ojo and took time aside with her to be breifed on the goings on in Blasingdale since they left. Afterwards, she is set to scouting the city — first and foremost around their inn — learning of those in need and as always searching for potential arcanists.

DM Mysterious going ons abound, Loyal Readers! Our heroes have sent one menace scurrying away into their hiding places, but could there be more going on than meets the eye? Probably not, we’re just here for a war wagon! But if we’re wrong, find out next week!


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