Session 13

May 25

Today we arrived in the small city of Mazooz, the first port east of Akkarid. It seems like it was once a small, pleasant place, but is currently beset by the pains of rapid economic growth. In a way, it reminds me of home, not from the similarities, but from the contrast. I wonder if, in a few centuries, Mazooz will have grown, peaked, and be in a similar slow, comfortable decline as Hazred. I wonder what will become of Hazred in those centuries.

After purchasing supplies and evening fell, we found a reasonably reputable inn to spend the night. As I bargained with the innkeeper, some poor drunk nearly vomited on my shoes. My mother would have been horrified by the place.

As I closed the deal, a man approached, saying that his master wished to both speak with us and host us for the night. After discerning that he meant us no harm, we followed him outside where he identified himself as Ameen Makara, an emissary for the bey, who was currently host to Fazia Shula.

We followed to the bey’s estate and were treated to a fine dinner, but Fazia did not join us. Bey Ayman Al-Aziz and his wife Bahija were gracious hosts and had been graciously, patiently hosting Fazia for several days.

After dinner, we met with Fazia who was quite incensed that we did not attend her party, but she was less irritated at the social slight than the inconvenience she now suffered tracking us down.

It was not a social call. She explained to us her plans to rebuild her ship, The Mashkhet—which had sunk years ago in this world—as a glorious, flying ship and she had knowledge of the means to do it.

To make the story short, she had obtained an artifact, the Tenrashinban which, in form, is much like a ship’s compass. If bound to the power of the The Four Cardinal Spirits, it would theoretically allow a vessel to travel through the air. She wished us to take the artifact and bind these spirits to it.

This sparked much debate among my companions as to the ethical, practical, and magical implications of this task. Neither us nor Fazia had enough knowledge to answer these questions so, with varying enthusiasm, we agreed, all conceding that it was better to have such a deed in our hands than in those of mercenaries who would not ask questions and that it would be better to have Fazia as a friend than an adversary.

I am concerned about Feng’s behavior of late. He actually proposed pushing Fazia overboard once the renewed Mashkhet was airborne. He has been developing a mean, belligerent streak and this was particularly worrisome.

I am feeling very tired. I shall think on this more tomorrow.

May 26

Am covered in pox. How did this happen? I must find Lyr.

Lyr cured my pox easily, but I was not the only victim. An outbreak of the Red Death had gripped the city overnight. At breakfast, we met the chief sage of the bey, a Kenku-like individual named Alkilli.

He informed of us the rapid spread of the plague, its implications, and of the fact that the city was locked down. Furthermore, it seemed Nessisus, Indira, Fazia, and the bey’s wife were all struck ill as well.

We volunteered our aid in investigating the problem. There were two likely vectors for the disease. One, a ship of the Delishea Djieda mercantile company whose crew was currently incarcerated. The other, a band of Anari we saw leave the city yesterday afternoon. One of their number had returned after his band left and was also incarcerated. We traveled quickly to the jail, accompanied by Ameen.

The sailors were feeling the effects of the plague, but the captain of the vessel, Amat Kadeer, explained quite sensibly that they could not have knowingly brought the disease with them from Sefet. The captain was quite helpful and informed us that their stop in Mazooz was made to deliver a shipment of rugs and he provided us with a shipping manifest. Due to the rapid spread of the disease, its effects would have been felt on the voyage. We recommended they be allowed to return to their ship, but that they be kept apart from the populace for their own safety.

We then met with the Anari prisoner, Rana Tutwaiaf Al-Ghalan of the Khen-she’ahb Al-ith’mar tribe. He explained that his people’s timely departure from the city was not an indication of guilt; they had not brought the disease into the city knowingly or unknowingly. They had left quickly due to detecting a fuin, a miasma over the city. He did, however, explain the peculiar reason for his return.

He said that he was drawn by visions of Orod Al-Carad, the Ruby Mountain. We suspect that the peculiar rubies we have were what drew him. A curious phenomena to be sure, but not related to the outbreak of the plague.

We next traveled to the home of one of those who purchased the rugs, a private collector who was known to Ameen.

There was nobody alive at this house.

The rugs were lying in the foyer, one partially unrolled. When examined for magic, the rugs themselves showed no signs of tampering but there were signs of magic elsewhere. Horrifyingly, the rugs appeared to contain fleas, ensorcelled with necromantic magics. We fled the house and had Feng burn it down to be safe.

We sent a messenger back to the bey and stopped at the temple of Bahamut to have those of us who had become infected cured. Afterwards, Lyr mentioned that there had been something peculiar about the prayers uttered by the priests, but she was unable to put words to what had caught her ear.

We returned to the bey’s estate and explained our findings to Alkilli, who asked us for a sample of the fleas. Some of us headed to the warehouse where the ship’s cargo was kept, while Cressida and Sehera returned to the jail to inform the prisoners of what was occurring and to see if the captain knew anything about these rugs.

The warehouse was crawling with fleas and so it was easy to gather a few.

Sample in hand, Alkilli was able to verify that these fleas were the vector for the plague and that they were the creation of necromantic magic. Using some sort of process I do not understand, he was able to reveal a wispy tether of magic leading from the fleas to some source. As we followed the trail, it became quickly apparent that it led to the temple…

Session 12

May 23

We pursued Creature north of the Path of Prosperity. The little beast’s energy and stamina are miraculous. He very nearly outran the camels.

He led us to an old ruin at the edge of the Sheel Khali Desert. Several dead Zythu lay about the place and we passed them by until we found Cressida Shesel, at the brink of death from a bullet wound to her side.

Lyr healed her but Cerssida was, initially despondent. When she spoke, it was to blame us for her lot. A fair enough accusation, I suppose, for we were the ones who intertwined her fate with the Glass Artifact. We did not know what was happening—and there is much we remain ignorant of—but our actions inarguably contributed to this chain of events.

She had found the Ushtarak tribe, but they did not know her. To make matters worse, Fusthid, a moderate baro and father-figure to Cressida, had been overthrown by Keergai’im, the xenophobic daleel who had, on another world, dueled with Sehera Tarzi. Under his leadership, the Ushtarak have “learned the ways of smoke and iron” and now fight with weapons stolen from the Terashal.

Khamuth, daughter of Fusthid is now wed to Keergai’im and Khegan was not with the tribe.

For her extensive and seemingly unexplainable knowledge of the tribe, Keergai’im called her a Devil of the Desert and declared accam mak shaiden. The men of his new daleel separated Cressida from Sartaj Bharatra, chasing her to the south, while he fled north.

They did not relent, though their chase continued for over a day until Cressida was forced to kill three men she knew as brothers.

While she recovered, Sehera heard the sounds of camels—aside from ours—and went to examine the source of the noise. She found a small herd of four camels, grazing on Anari Brush, four camels that belonged to an irate sun giant, who demanded she surrender our camels to him.

Her “no” was stated with enough force to attract our attention and we joined the battle before he was able to slay her with his great spear. As I harried his legs, Indira Ére peppered him with ice arrows until Feng slew him with a magic missile to the head.

Amongst his possessions, we found a strange chest with a ring of six rubies on the lid. Feng picked the lock and a hot wind rushed out. The box was now empty and far lighter than it was. We took the box with us, for it seemed to not have any residue of magic.

Indira talked to the camels who were quite docile and held no sorrow for the death of their master, Gat.

We all wished we could go to the aid of Sartaj, but he had gone the opposite direction, north of the Ushtarak, which meant that he was two days away from us, and we only have two more days of food and water. Fortunately, he has the Warp Ring; if he winds up in a serious pinch, hopefully he uses it.

That night, we made camp shortly before returning to the Path of Prosperity and a baffling event took place. As Indira described it, the night grew hot and the air shimmering. Suddenly, one of the new camels burst into flame. The smell and noise woke us, but there was nothing we could do, save for calming the remaining camels.

When the fire died, all that remained was ash. Underneath, the ground was melted to glass and we found a cluster of six spherical rubies.

We abandoned the chest, just in case.

May 24

Today, we rejoined the Path of Prosperity and continued towards Sefet. Cressida has, for the time being, joined us.

The road was quite busy, affording us an opportunity to purchase some additional supplies and tack to accommodate our new camels and Cressida (who swallowed her pride and agreed to ride with us despite the Zythu disdain for beast of burden).

That night, we set camp off the road and were, again, denied a normal night.

This time, it was the tents that caught aflame but it was Feng’s watch and he was able to control the flames, removing it from our tents before serious damage was done to them or us. (Though I shall have to remember to have them patched at our next stop.)

As we awoke from the heat and noise, the malevolent presence that had followed us since yesterday revealed itself, an undead efreeti named Izznaar-Al-Sara.

Efreeti are cruel and tyrannical by nature, but not wholly unreasonable. This one, however, had been rendered quite insane by his condition and demanded we surrender Feng to him. Obviously an unacceptable solution, we drew arms…

Sehera took the brunt of the efreeti’s assault until she was forced to retreat, for her weapons would not touch it. Though Indira and I were able to strike it repeatedly and Feng masterfully dispelled a wall of flames that would have turned the battle against us, it was Lyr’s holy magic that drove the beast to desperation. It dove at Feng in what we believe was an attempt to possess him, but our wu-jen’s will was too strong. It careened away and exploded into the sand, leaving a ring of red rubies. Hopefully, this is the last we’ve seen of this nuisance.

Feng was left deeply troubled by the experience and claims the rubies are pebbles from the legendary Ruby Mountain. We must have our remaining eleven rubies analyzed at some point by more insightful minds than merchants to see if we can learn more about them. If Ruby Mountain is a real place, it could raise some interesting concerns about the prophecies we have heard…

Now that I think of it, Izznaar-Al-Sara spoke of a prophecy, calling it “broken.” Unfortunately, he was not in a fit mental state to elaborate. I hope we can find a way to learn more, for whatever this prophecy is, we seem to be caught in its web.

Soon we reach Mazooz. I know nothing about this city but perhaps they have a library or other center of learning we can inquire at.

Session 11

Akkarid, Soleria-Prime. May 19

The priest has restored Lazar Al Rakim to life. We have not seen him yet, for he needs rest, but the priest and Maqsood Musaru say that he is doing well or as well as one would expect. I am tempted to talk to him to see if he can recall anything, but I’m fairly certain that is precisely what one is not supposed to do when someone returns from the dead.

At some point, Qessab left, without anyone noticing. I wish her luck and I hope she leaves the city. A city is not a safe place for an ettercap, nor would an ettercap be safe for the inhabitants. I have not forgotten who her prey was when we first encountered her…

It has been a short, but strenuous day. Tomorrow, we shall decide what to do next.

May 20

We all awoke late, even Lyr, who seemed somewhat distraught by the fact. This is why I have never had much to do with the gods; who are they to tell me when to wake and when to sleep?

Lazar had a duty to perform at the edge of the city and we accompanied him, having some chores we needed to do as well. I shall not record it here, for it is his business, but it was a simple task with great weight to him.

We discussed our plans on the way back to my uncle’s house. The six of us still plan to travel to Sefet and to leave as soon as possible, due to the price on Indira’s head. Lazar and Maqsood will remain behind to see if they cannot come to a greater understanding of Al-Mhuqtebel and the Key Disc.

Upon returning, I wished to test a hypothesis, so we reopened the portal in my uncle’s guest room and stepped through. I attempted to visualize a location in Sefet while activating the key disc, hoping to open a portal that would take us directly there. Alas, it was to no avail.

And so we gathered up our belongings and headed to the port, accompanied by a servant who knew the area. Unfortunately, no ships were leaving, despite the pleasant weather. The Mara had left port earlier and all were braced for a storm.

We noted a curious sight at the harbor, The Chernabog Obietsa, which I had thought did not exist in my world. This has gnawed at me for hours but I have not had time to decipher it. The simplest explanation is that I did not know of it. I was never destined to be a navy man, and thus it is possible that knowledge of this escaped me. If it indicates something different… we simply do not have enough information to decipher what that could be.

While the servant asked around, we had a conversation with a man, Mehmet Aurelius, a collector of swords, who seemed quite pleasant. Imagine our surprise when his bodyguard, Isha, returned and we saw she was an Ancilla.

He was of the Ordo Clavis and I could detect no hostility in him, even after I showed him my sword to continue conversation, forgetting for the moment where I had obtained it. It has been some time since I have done something so stupid… But he responded with a measure of contrition that I would not have expected, even if I doubt he believed my equivocations.

I suppose this is a reminder that the Odro Clavis, whatever it may be to us, is a human organization, not a shadowy cabal of demons. But, if for every ten Mehmet’s—assuming he was not concealing a significant darkness—there is but one who would execute our friends casually or do whatever that was to Lyr, that is far too many. I must try to learn more about what they actually do and why.

He told us of a ship, The Majnoon that would likely be sailing out tonight and of its unusual master, Captain Nafuna. Not long after, as the weather made good on the infamous curse of the Mara and took a turn for the bleak, the servant returned and described to us a chance meeting with this same Captain. Though she sounded reckless and, according to Mehmet, asked a tremendous sum, we sought her out.

It was an… interesting encounter. To make a strange story short, we did not gain passage on her ship. She would not negotiate her price and so we left unsatisfied as the heavens split open. I think Feng planned some mischief in revenge for this inconvenience, or perhaps simply because he was restless and, now that I see he is gone, I fear he has gone off to do something ill-advised. I think it best if I do not ask him what occurred upon his return…

Currently, we are staying in an inn near the port. The rain is unlike any Akkarid has seen in the memories of anyone I ask and no ships, save the Majoon, are leaving harbor. We were lucky enough to simply find a floor to sleep on on such a night. Even in Hazred, which experiences far more rain than dry Akkarid, I would have to go back many years to find it’s like.

I hope there are ships leaving tomorrow. If not, we may consider taking an overland voyage. It would take us twice as long, but another few days in one place could be a death sentence to Indira.

May 21

Alas, our fears came to pass and the storm remains. In truth, it seems so peculiarly strong and stable, that we may not lose much time at all with an overland voyage. Few will be the ships in the harbor that will not need lengthy repairs.

Upon waking and leaving the inn, we encountered Abu and the servant who had accompanied us yesterday. He was delivering an invitation from the Shula family to an event held in honor of Fazia’s return. If it were not for Indira’s situation, I would have been glad to attend; I feel it important that the seventeen of us who interacted with the Glass Artifact to not lose contact with each other. As we were able to find merchants who could supply us on this wet day, I had to decline the invitation and sent a letter back with Abu, conveying my regrets.

I hope she stays safe. I hope she can be happy with her family and can forget that they are not, in a sense, her family.

We purchased seven camels, tack, a map, gear for making camp, and three days worth of supplies, which should be enough to get us to the first village along the Path of Prosperity.

The journey is two thousand miles. If we move at a good pace—keeping the camels healthy and not running into any particular problems—we should make roughly forty miles per day, so we should be on the road for fifty days. Twice the time by ship, but it gets us out away from Akkarid today.

Even if I had swallowed my pride, I probably would not have been able to secure a loan from my family today, but I still feel like I have failed in not leaving aboard the Majoon. It would have been a lively trip.

Perhaps we will encounter some interesting adventures along the journey! Trouble does seem to have a way of finding us…

Apologies for filling my journal with such minutiae, but it is not my money alone that is paying for this passage, so I must keep a record.

On this day, the 20th of May, we purchased seven good-quality camels and tack as well as: two tents, 50’ hemp rope, two empty sacks, one iron pot and cookware, one hooded lantern, one tinderbox (inc. flint & steel), and two large casks for water.

We purchased three day’s supplies: three days trail rations for six people, three days feed for seven camels, two clay jugs of wine, two pints of oil, three days firewood, and water to fill the casks. This comes roughly to four gold for each day of travel (supplying our entire party). Estimated total cost of supplies for the trip: 200 gold.

On the Path of Prosperity, villages are spaced two or three days apart; we should hit roughly nineteen villages between here and Sefet. I assume we will be staying at inns in these towns. One gold and five silvers each—nine gold for the entire group—should buy us comfortable lodgings, meals more interesting than trail rations, stabling for the camels, and perhaps some small luxuries. Nineteen such stops… I estimate a total cost of 171 gold.

Three hundred and seventy one gold for travel expenses, minimum. If we maintain our equipment well, it could last us well beyond this trip, so I think we can write that expense off. And if we care for the camels—Indria seems excellent with animals—we could sell them back in Sefet for a reasonable price. Maybe we can pick up some trade goods to help further defray our costs.

I hope my tutors are satisfied. My knuckles ache in memory of their switches as I worked that out…

We left Akkarid under the still-raining skies. It was slow going at first but, by nightfall, the rain tapered off. Almost immediately, it then stopped, as if we had crossed a boundary. Truly unnatural weather.

We traveled for a distance and encountered a caravan setting camp. We requested to join them and were greeted warmly.

We spent the night in conversation with the travellers who, like us, were mostly bound to Sefet upon personal business. The closest to a leader the caravan had was one Kurgu Enusat an adventurer of some note. His boasts were quite singular; he was either a great liar or truly a great explorer.

A lusty man, he spent much of the evening making Lyr quite uncomfortable. The poor girl is more innocent than I would have thought possible.

We set camp slightly away from the remainder of the caravan. When it came time for me to replace Sehera on guard, we heard a ferocious banging noise. A large crate in the back of a wagon contained something that very much wanted to get out…

Around the wagon, we found the body of Kurgu, headless. As I cried out that I had found his body, his head found us. It had somehow become a hideous, bat-winged thing. Then, an even greater monstrosity burst forth from the crate, a mass of human-like heads on serpentine necks, suspended from a small, bulbous body with leathery wings.

By then, our companions had been roused—as had the entire camp. Quickly, Indira slew the flying head with a well-placed arrow, but the shrieking terror proved a more difficult foe. It screamed horribly, paralyzing Indira and then flying at her, kissing her grotesquely. Before it died, it bit Sehera and I, leaving strange-feeling wounds.

Lyr’s magic cured the poison of its bite and undid whatever foul effect Indira suffered. Should none of our heads detach and fly away, I should consider offering more respect towards Pelor…

May 23

We traveled with the caravan an uneventful day and night before reaching a small village. There the caravan remained and, after replenishing our supplies, we continued on separately.

Not long after, we spotted a small animal running towards us from the wilderness. It was Creature

Session 10

Akkarid, Soleria-Prime. May 18

We awoke early, but Lyr had already been up for some time, filled with energy. My uncle’s concoction had helped, though her memories are still shattered. Beyond amnesia, her mind seems intact. I wonder again at the aim of the experiment she was trapped in. Was this devastation of her memory, leaving her other faculties intact, the purpose of it?

The six of us, Lazar Al Rakim, and Maqsood Musaru commissioned a pair of carriages and traveled to the library. Alone, I approached the guards bearing a letter for Captain Hunzuu, posing as a courier. Not betraying the content of the letter or our prior knowledge of each other, he informed me of where to “make the delivery.”

My friends and I waited at this location until a pair of guards approached, as the Captain had described—we knew them by the blue plumes, rather the standard red—and led us down an alley, changing their appearance along the way so as to confuse any onlookers. Though we know the Captain and the Provost of the Library are friendly to us, there were no doubt agents of the Ordo Clavis whose gaze we hope we avoided.

They brought us into the Library by some form of teleportation magic and the Captain escorted us to the location within the library where we had arrived. Once Qessab joined us, Indira opened the portal and we stepped through…

Al-Mhuqtebel was dark and abandoned so we retraced our steps, finding ourselves again in Seb Rashidi’s chamber. The corridor leading to the rest of the complex seemed a suitable enough point to lay an ambush, and so we prepared ourselves.

Indira slipped into the darkness, returning once she heard the noise of the Zabaniya—the construct guards—as well as a strange disturbance in the air. Qessab wove a tangle of webs in the hall to, hopefully, slow our enemies. She warned us that what approached was not just the guards, but also their leader, a thing that was not like us, but like all of us. We would soon discovered what she meant…

As we waited, a deep, inhuman voice called out to us from the dark, telling us that evacuation had been ordered and to state our business. I attempted to give an impression of Seb Rashidi—our presence was already detected and so I might as well obtain some information—but after a short dialog the conversation abruptly ended when something burned away Qessab’s webbing.

The thing that spoke charged down the hall. In form, it was like a gigantic gorilla, but made of metal and leather and unnatural substances. I later learned that this was a type of construct called a Warforged, which are more like living things than the Zabaniya.

As we engaged this hulking brute, several Zabaniya approached from down the corridor… as well as a pair of fireball spells, which detonated beyond Sehera and I. Lazar was instantly killed from massive burns and Nessisus was brought down as well. It seemed for a moment that he shared Lazar’s fate, but Lyr was able to save him. Upon recovering, he was panicked and nearly fled the field.

When he rejoined the battle, we had killed the warforged brute and began to fight the Zabaniya by the illumination of a rock charmed with a light spell.

In a moment of resourcefulness, Feng used the remains of the Warforged to create a metal warrior, which joined us against the Zabaniya. When we destroyed some of their number, more devastating spells began to strike us from the darkness. Sehera ran towards the source as I, Lyr, and Feng’s metal warrior continued to fight the targets in front of us.

Feng cast another light source beyond us in the dark hall, revealing Sehera and Qessab paralyzed and brought near death by an unknown foe. Quickly, I dispatched two more Zabaniya and dived away from the fray. I grabbed the light-ensorcelled rock, dashed towards the darkness, and hurled the light beyond my allies, revealing what they fought.

The creature that was not like us, but like all of us was a six-armed thing about the size of a slender man, with a strange, birdlike face. It held in two of its hands a magical disk and its other hands were in constant motion, for it was able to cast powerful spells at a fearsome rate, giving it and its kind the name Spell Weaver. Beyond it were two large entities, with strange, indistinct bodies and eerie white masks for faces. These were the “Cleaners” we heard spoken of.

Leaving the remaining zabaniya to the metal warrior, Indria and Nessisus’ arrows, and Maqsood’s bullets, I engaged the Spell Weaver, giving Sehera and Qessab a moment to recover. We surely would have all perished yet again if not for Lyr’s healing magic, so we were given a great fright when it struck down Lyr with dozens of simultaneous magic missiles. Fortunately, we had purchased several healing potions yesterday and were able to get her back on her feet.

The Cleaners were fearsome beings, but could not withstand us long, particularly after Feng scorched them with a fireball of his own. Once the remaining Zabaniya were destroyed, both of the Cleaners were brought down by our combined might.

The Spell Weaver was not so easy to defeat. With both Sehera and I bearing down on it, it teleported away, surprising Nessisus and nearly killing him again. The Spell Weaver had used the time we spent fighting the Warforged wisely, casting protective spells upon itself. Even my uncle’s bombs proved largely ineffective on it. Lyr was able to dispel some of them, which would ultimately prove our salvation.

As Sehera and I ran towards it, it cast a dazzling spray of rainbow light, hypnotizing Sehera and I while it struck down Lyr and the metal warrior. It required great effort to break free and, by that time, we were all seriously injured, save Indira and Maqsood. Out of spells, Feng rushed at the Spell Weaver, hoping to distract it momentarily so I could slay it, but still somewhat dazzled by the spell, I missed. Hope seemed lost until Sehera, broken free of the spell by Qessab, charged and severed its head with her scimitar.

We breathed a sigh of relief and set about helping Nessisus and Lyr back to their feet. A quick inspection of our surroundings revealed that Al-Muhqtebel, once a sprawling complex, now consisted of this room, the ones behind it, and one more room down the hall, the room the corridor led to. Where once doors had opened to other corridors and chambers was nothing but blank walls.

Sadness in our hearts, we began to offer final rites to Lazar when Maqsood interrupted. Sartaj Bharatra was not with us, said he, why could we not get a priest of Bahamut to resurrect him? I did not know that one could resurrect someone as badly burned as Lazar. Of my brothers who have died, none were in a state fit for resurrection. Umar had lost a long battle to a wasting illness. Zahi lies at the bottom of the sea. Makram… who in their right mind, even as a joke, jumps off of a He is in a better place now and I don’t mean the jaguars.

Carefully, we wrapped Lazar in a sheet and quickly inspected the bodies of our foes. All that remained of the Cleaners were their masks, which, upon examination, seemed as if they would be incredibly valuable if we could find a buyer for such a strange object.

The Spell Weaver’s disc seemed to have no power and so to did the crystal key. We were all somewhat at a loss what to do—trapped now in Al-Mhuqtebel with little food and water—when Indira on an impulse, set the key on the disc. The two merged somehow, which charged up the key but, when activated the portal it created was incomplete, showing no location on the other side.

We tried different ideas and, eventually, Indira pictured in her mind the guest room she had slept in at my uncle’s house. The portal finally connected, this time with that room, and a symbol appeared and remained on the disc. Wasting no time, we stepped through.

As we recovered, I sent a servant to sell one of the masks. He returned with a great sum of money but with a somewhat unsettling story. The merchant he had sold it to claimed to be of The Mara, the infamously mysterious, cursed ship.

Whatever the provenance of this gold, it should be enough to pay the priest if he can resurrect Lazar. I shall have to make sure Sartaj never reads this.

Later, I hope to have a chance to examine this new Key Disc. In my wild imaginings, perhaps it will allow us to set up Al-Mhuqtebel as a sort of hub, with portals in different locations. I wonder if, instead of traveling overland, we could simply create a portal to Sefet. (That abandoned house where we fought Tu Fan Zui springs to mind.) Perhaps, if we could get some servants and a couple trustworthy tradesmen in there, we could remodel it as a base of operations. I don’t think there is a source of water, but if we could stock it as one would a ship for an ocean voyage… But I race ahead of myself.

I hear noise from downstairs. Perhaps it is the priest. I hope we can still save Lazar.

Session 09

Akkarid, Soleria-Prime. May 17

It is difficult to tally up how long we have been traveling together, as our method of travel has created broken strands of causality. I feel like months, years have passed, or perhaps only mere hours.

Our first meeting, in Sefet, took all of a few seconds until we were whisked away to several days in the relative past. There, we spent, at most, a few hours following Lydra Geb until we reached Ramal. (Now that I think of it, she knew where we were going. Did she realize the date? Was she trying to prevent something from happening? Did the Ramal of our world die in that warehouse by the hands of the Agents of the Cobalt Crown? I wish I could ask her.) Let us call it three hours.

We then journeyed to the Sheel Khali Dessert and met Cressida Shesel. It was but a short walk to her tribe’s camp. We then stayed in the marketplace through the end of the afternoon. After Sehera’s dual, the sun was beginning to set. We could not have been in Qessab’s cave for longer than half an hour. Generously, I estimate eight hours.

Our next journey was our longest. We were dropped into the ocean by Fazia Shula at about midday, spent the next day aboard a merchant vessel, and left via the artifact the following night. Fifty-six hours.

Our fourth journey began around lunchtime, and we spent the entire afternoon walking, camping that night. The next day, a long walk, coming to a close in our battle with Mikelebasah Ulehte around sunset. Thirty-two hours.

Our fifth journey began in the evening. We entered Tamba Khoya before midday and we not in there long. Being generous, twenty hours.

Our sixth journey was shorter than the previous to the mine, as our travel time was entirely eliminated. Three hours at most.

We then spent about four hours escaping Al-Mhuqtebel and approximately fourteen hours in the library. It is now late, roughly thirty-four hours since we were freed by Anansi.

That is one hundred and fifty-six hours, generously estimating and including the time spent asleep. Six and a half days placed end to end. A week since I parted ways with Maram afore her father could… well, best not to think of it.

I feel it not overly presumptuous to say that no man has ever had a week like the one I have just survived.

We began today by bidding our companions farewell and good luck and then set out to purchase equipment, provisions, and some new clothes. I invested a portion of our funds in a fine buckler. I lost my old shield at some point and I am glad to get a new one, particularly a lighter one that will not slow me down. My brutal handling by Jaleh reminded me how close death can be…

Eventually, we regrouped at a central fountain and journeyed to my uncle’s estate. A second carriage followed us closely, unbidden. Sehera pursued us on foot to keep an eye on it.

My uncle’s manservant, Abu, did not recognize me at first, prompting a momentary lurch of fear, but he simply had not seen me in ten years. Neither my uncle nor aunt was home, but he welcomed my companions and I in. Eventually the second carriage discharged Maqsood Musaru, who entered through the servant’s entrance with a trunk that held his rifle. (I had begun to suspect that it was he, and possibly Qessab, when they made had made no hostile move. I surmised that Maqsood, who was acting in such a secretive manner, would prefer to pass through the less-visible servant’s entrance.)

Unfortunately, Abu seemed convinced that one of my companions was my wife, fiancée, or at least a… romantic partner. There was naught I could do to dissuade him of this, just as there was very little I could do to cause him to stop talking.

We spent the next few hours in the garden, drinking tea and observing the interesting flora and fauna, until my Uncle returned.

He was, as ever, himself.

After explaining to him my romantic circumstances or, rather, the lack thereof, I shared our entire story. Fortunately, he believed every word of it—except perhaps that I was not engaged to Sehera, Lyr, Indira, or some combination of the three. When he asked me why I told him this, I answered truthfully that I wished to warn him about the menace of the Ordo Clavis, that he should spurn their influence, reject any advances of theirs, and, if possible, advise others to do the same. I did not tell him of the nightmare I had last night, of a very different outcome to this meeting as, here in the comfort of family, such fears seemed increasingly far away.

He then helped prepare some explosive devices, which Maqsood, Feng, and I felt might be helpful in our return to Al-Mhuqtebel. He also prepared a potion for Lyr, to help her troubled body and mind. It rendered her unconscious, but my Aunt—who returned at about this time and to whom I did not have to explain my female companions—assured us that it would not cause her harm. Of course, it is quite possible that all Lyr truly needed was sleep, long and sound, after her ordeal and, in his own way, my uncle had recognized that.

It has grown late as I write this at the desk my uncle uses for his diplomatic work, his curiously faithful half-basilisk at my feet, and a glass of mulled wine in my hand. I realize now that, for the first time in that six and a half days, I am fully relaxed. Up to now, to this moment, my strange journey had not truly been over.

When I first set out on my adventure, there was something always in the back of my mind that I wasn’t even aware of: that I could go home. That, if something ever went truly wrong, be it crippling injury or simply realizing that my father was right and this is a stupid idea, I could return to Hazred and see my mother’s beautiful face and once again laugh with my brothers and cousins and eventually marry some minor noble girl as chosen by my father and live out to a comfortable old age. It was never a prospect I thought much of, but it was there. A safety line.

After the first time the Glass Artifact carried us away, I knew something strange was happening. When I met Marid I knew that my safety line had been cut. There was no true home for me. There is no true home now for Marid. But he has time to adapt and he will. (And, as far as I am concerned, he is family, and I will do what I can to do right by him.) The Glass Artifact did not give us time to adapt. We had nothing but the vague hope that, when it finished whatever it was doing, it would bring us back. I almost envy Maisha in her return to Khonoma.

But I do not want to retreat to Hazred. I know that now with certainty, not from having lost it, but from having that option returned to me. I set out for a purpose. It may seem a selfish purpose, but it is in memory of my friend, in service of my master’s sword, in honor of my great ancestors, that I do this. I embrace this journey now. Now that I have the choice to do so.

And yes, Iskandar, I will have fun.

It is time now. The streets are quiet and I must allow Feng and Sehera out of the side door. Maqsood said that he saw someone in the opposite house—a typically unoccupied house—observing us and that he “took care of it.” It would not have been appropriate at the time, with the streets so busy, but now, they will sneak in to this house and see what there is to find. I could not possibly guess…

They have returned. Maqsood’s knife flew true. They discovered the body of a lone assassin, who had on him a list of names. Most were unknown to us, even to Abu.

One, however, was Indira Ére.

Session 08

Akkarid, Soleria-Prime. May 16

We have made it home and for that I thank the gods who oversee travelers. All our actions since our chance meeting in Sefet have been in pursuit of this. I would like to say that I had been able to tell the instant we stepped into The Great Library of Akkarid, but it was not until later that we were able to verify this.

We now stood in the middle of The Great Library, with guards approaching from all sides. Weary and blooded, we were strapped for options of an easy escape. That is when inspiration presented me a clever plan. Quickly, I gathered up a handful of scrolls, Feng, a bottle of ink, and a boot…

Lady Lestoue, as you have no doubt noticed, the previous several pages, detailing the unusual adventure of our escape from the library—while hopefully entertaining—are entirely fictional. I thought it wise to not leave an accurate description of our conversation and my companions’ travel plans in the Library, within easy reach of the OC. Thus the prior account of our “escape,” as devoid of facts as possible. I have, however, recorded the truth for my own purposes, and could provide copies of these pages if you request them, along with the inevitable further accounts of our strange exploits. Yours, HHHHH.

Upon the entrance of myself and my fellow escapees from Al-Mhuqtebel, we were greeted by a group of guards. We were able to convince them that we were not an immediate threat but, understandably, they were not quick to let us leave. Eventually we were joined by one Captain Hunzuu, who would hear our story. He led us to a side room, seeking to avoid any patrons or librarians noticing us. We thought that he may have simply been seeking to avoid mass panic at such a large group of armed warriors but, from what we would later learn, he may have had greater concerns in mind.

Though skeptical of our story, he could not deny the evidence before his eyes, particularly when a guard, Emad, who had once served the Shula family, identified Fazia, who in this world had died several years ago.

With this knowledge—and our explanation of how we entered the library—he seemed convinced and brought us through back passages up many, many flights of stairs. He spoke little but, when questioned, he provided the date (two months since Sefet) and confirmed that there had indeed been a conflict there akin to the one we saw.

Ultimately, he gave us over to the care of the Provost of the library, Claudia Lestoue, the former Queen of the Kingdom of Lestoue and of the unified Kingdom of Rastahl.

She heard our story and seemed particularly interested in our experiences with the Ordo Clavis. She then relayed her own experiences with them and their role in her rise and fall in Rastahl. She clearly bore them no love and seemed distressed at our tale, which confirmed many of her worst fears of their cruel nature, but there was little she could do. The Ordo Clavis, through extensive funding of the Library, has obtained great political power in Akkarid.

I recall hearing of the troubles in Rastahl from my tutors as a youth, but the conflict seemed far away and so had little to do with me. Is it irony that elements of that strife now affect me so personally, or simply proof that I should have listened to my teachers’ words? Perhaps, some day, it will be my lack of attention to al-Kitab al-Jabr will result in a mathematical doom, not death by foe’s blade or a dragon’s fangs.

Lady Lestoue then showed to us a piece of an Onyx Artifact that was, in form, exactly like the Glass Artifact. It was a piece of the device we saw broken in the conflict in Sefet. She suspects that its purpose was solely to keep the other device in check and, when it broke, the Glass Artifact began operating on a pre-determined course, taking us with it.

This was a stark reminder. I had been blaming the Ordo Clavis for our journey for the past several hours, but it was only chance that saw it land in my hands. Chance or the design of the gods. I might as well attempt to revenge myself on a winter storm.

But as I look at my companions, now enjoying the hospitality of our host, I do not think I can let these dogs lie. They had been so willing to dispose of the others. The apparent destruction caused by our exit of the other worlds was due to their designs. And let us not forget what they had done to poor Lyr, who is still struggling to regain her bearings and fractured memories of her past.

Quite simply, I do not like them. Every instinct of judgment, every lesson of ethics and responsibility I have been taught by my father, my tutors, my mentor screams at me that the Ordo Clavis is not to be abided. The search for knowledge is no more excuse for atrocities than the lust for wealth, power, any of the factors that drives a corrupt mind to harm others.

My master often told me of “The Call,” the thing which all blademaster dream of. More than a cause to fight for, it is a guiding mission. A thing that gives one’s life meaning beyond and enhancing the joy of adventure. I believe that I may have found my Call.

May 17

In the morning, I breakfasted with our companions one last time and reflected upon the previous evening.

After our discussion with the Provost last night, Fazia Shula left to return to her family. I can understand her desire not to accept our help, but I fear she is in for a troublesome time. Perhaps I should ask one of my cousins to keep an open ear for rumors of her activities.

We were treated well by servants chosen by our host. A healer tended to Sehera and I, then, a luxurious bath, a new shirt not covered in my own blood, and a fine meal later, I began to feel alive again. Nessisus performed a song for us, a strange piece describing visions he has had. (I am still somewhat concerned for his health. If he suffers another fit, I am bringing him to a master healer whether he likes it or not.) Finally, I was able to record in my journal the events of our two experiences in Tamba Khoya and in Al Mhuqtebel. I felt a great sense of relief in finally being able to preserve those events. I must also have Nessisus transcribe his song when we have the opportunity.

And now, our large party is dividing.

Marid al-Husam is accompanying Maisha and Kiso Mngani back to Kohonma.

Sartaj Bharatra and Cressida Shesel are traveling across the Sheel Khali Desert towards Itwaar, both seeking to return to their homes.

Lydra Geb and Ramal will return to Sefet to attempt to assess the Agents of the Cobalt Crown, servants of Azu-Makeen, the great blue dragon. These former allies of the Ordo Clavis may be allies no longer, a fact we may be able to use to our advantage.

Maqsood Musaru and Lazar Al Rakim will return to Al-Mhuqtebel along with Qessab, the Ettercap whom we all have finally learned the name and species of. They plan on ambushing the “cleaners” we heard spoken of and, hopefully claim the structure for our own purposes.

Chaim seems content to remain at the Library. He has been reading all night, with no signs of slowing. I hope when next we meet, we can hold a conversation. I am interested to learn if he knows anything of the strange place we found him.

The rest of my traveling companions, Feng, Indira, Sehera, and Nessisus plan on accompanying the operation to retake Al-Mhuqtebel then, later, hopefully reunite with Lydra and Ramal in Sefet. I shall be accompanying them. Lyr has also expressed interest, but her condition, after hours if not days of neglect, is still quite tenuous. She will do as she must, but she is a spirited companion and would be a welcome addition to our band.

But first, we shall take advantage of being in Akkarid and acquire some new equipment. Then I would like to call upon my uncle. His help will be valuable in our enterprise; I would like any who need contact us to be able to do so through him and his knowledge could be a great help as well.

I would also like to warn him about the Ordo Clavis. Ideally, he could use his influence at the court and amongst the community of noble alchemists to undermine their growing power in Raqaejah. At the least, I can warn them about the subtle danger they may pose to him personally as a notable scholar. He is an honest, loyal man, but the lens of curiosity through which he surveys the world could be a weakness the Ordo Clavis could exploit. I will not have these bastards suborn my family.

Tonight, we may finally stop reacting, and begin to act.

Session 07


Having been freed from our bonds by Anansi, we collected our bearings and removed the acupuncture needles that had suppressed our magic-users powers, before turning to the woman who looked like Lydra Geb. Feng, in a particularly anxious mood, attempted to bully the woman into talking, go so far as to light the webbing that bound her.

After Sehera patted out the flames—and began arguing with Feng—we bound her to one of the chairs. It seemed this woman was as mute as the Lydra we knew and was unwilling to communicate, we took her keys and left her be.

We hid in a neighboring cell as a pair of heavily armored guards passed on patrol. Upon observing them, it quickly became clear that they were mindless automata. (We later learned they were of a type typically called “Dread Guards,” little more than animate suits of armor.)

Waiting patiently for them to move into the distance, we proceeded down the halls of our prison. The architecture was plain, unadorned, and lacking in windows, offering no hint as to where we were. Any rooms we passed were empty, and signs abounded that the facility had been abandoned, its users—presumably those responsible for the Glass Artifact—leaving little trace of their identity or purpose.

The first room of interest we discovered contained some abandoned equipment, including a large crystal container containing a fog not unlike that within the Glass Artifact and several strange beetles, large ornately colored creatures with tentacles for limbs. Clearly these entities were not of this world.

Feeling sorry for them, Indira freed these creatures, but the noise attracted guards. When the beetles began chewing holes in the air itself and escaping, we followed them, for we were unarmed.

We found ourselves in a peculiar, ghostly realm, the Ethereal Plane. We explored our surroundings, finding we could move through obstacles of the Material Plane with ease, and discovered where our possessions were kept. We also realized we were being watched… Finding no way out, we recaptured one of the beetles, passing through the portal it made in trying to escape us.

Reunited with our arms and armor, we felt more confident in our chances of survival. We also discovered a seventh set of belongings alongside are own. Perhaps there was another captive nearby who needed our help? After waiting for more guards to pass, we examined the nearby rooms until we found one that was occupied.

Within, a strange scene was being played out. At the center, a large tank was filled with faintly glowing oils, slowly roiling and changing colors. To either side were chairs, facing the tank, in which were secured a Xamuss woman and a strange, wormlike creature of vaguely humanoid proportions. All were connected by cords into a single apparatus.

We freed her and disconnected her from the apparatus. The woman, a cleric of Pelor named Lyr, later explained that it was some manner of game that she and the creature were forced to play against each other. She knew not how long she was in captivity, but it seemed to be several days.

As we reunited her with her belongings, four guards arrived. As we fought them, the creature escaped its bonds and began to attack us, using mental abilities to cloud our minds so far as to force Indira to turn her bow against us. Lyr, however, proved a skilled ally and helped us overcome this threat.

We continued to explore our prison, eventually stumbling across a room we recognized, for we all remembered—before awaking a few hours ago—Anton De Orlean interrogating us in this room, ostensibly for the benefit of our captors, though we knew the truth.

It was then that we were found yet again. A woman named Jaleh—who claimed to be our chief jailer—entered the room accompanied by more women who looked exactly like Lydra Geb. We learned that these beings were called Ancillae, though what they are remains a mystery. Needless to say, we did not desire to return to our cell and wait patiently for fate to play its hand.

The fight was a difficult. Jaleh wielded twin rapiers with inhuman ferocity for she was, in fact, some sort of construct, and the ancillae were fierce combatants themselves.

Perhaps it was the strange way that time has affected us—allowing us to improve our skills without the benefit of experience—perhaps it was ill luck, or perhaps she was simply the superior combatant, for Jaleh brought me to the brink of death more than once in our brief battle. If not for Lyr’s magic, I would surely have died then. But I did not die and, in fact, managed to sever one of her hands, striking her with one of her rapiers.

As the battle wore on, she began to slow, until she decided to withdraw, vowing vengeance upon me in particular. I must train heavily for such an event, for I hope I can meet her evenly next time. I suppose I should also offer my thanks to Pelor…

Badly wounded and nearly spent, we continued to search for an egress. Instead, we found a large chamber, in which a man was conducting some form of experiment on the strange statue we found in Tamba Khoya.

When confronted, the man caused the doors to be sealed with great slabs of rock by some magical command. Feng lost his composure and appeared about to assault the man. I also nearly lost my own composure and was a breath away from striking Feng when Lyr stepped in, forcing us all to cease hostilities.

A potential crisis averted—I suspect the man was no mere scholar and we would not have survived another trying battle—we talked. The man named himself Seb Rashidi, Provost of Al-Mhuqtebel, the laboratory/prison we were in, and servant of an organization called the Ordo Clavis. At last, we had a name to put to our captors…

Seb Rashidi explained that none would leave Al-Mhuqtebel without his permission, that those we collected with the artifact were to be killed, that he felt no responsibility or regret for this, and, since there was nothing we could do, we should return to our cell. Our conversation revealed little else of note, for he was evasive, answering questions as honestly as possible while remaining entirely unhelpful.

In addition to Seb Rashidi’s experimental apparatus, the room contained many games of strategy. Feng began to take his frustrations out on his surroundings, knocking over a Pai-sho set. While Seb Rashidi and Feng argued, Indira and Sehera began to examine a Chaturanga board, which caught Seb Rashidi’s eye.

He offered us a bargain, if we would amuse him by solving a puzzle, he would give us a boon. We agreed and he set before us The Riddle of The Herald. Upon our discovery of a solution, he said that he would allow one of our companions to live. Seemingly on impulse Nessisus declared that the ally to live should be the statue. Though Seb Rashidi thought at first that this was a jest—for of all our companions, the statue was the only one who was clearly not alive—Nessisus was quite serious. With a mocking tone he declared “Statue, I give you life!”

Promptly, Seb Rashidi dropped to the ground dead and the statue came to life. As I understand it, most constructs are animated by binding a spirit within a physical frame. (Jaleh seemed to have been powered by a water spirit, for example) Sehera believes he accidentally sacrificed himself to bring the golem to life. I am not so sure, and would not be entirely surprised to see Seb Rashidi’s machinations return in some way. Nessisu feels this only confirms his greatness.

Then Feng lit the body on fire.

The golem seemed to begin its life as a blank slate. If it had such an existence before, any access to its history seemed lost, and it was capable of saying no more than its name, Chaim. But it quickly began displaying great intelligence, for, when I suggested that it break down the blocked door, it instead how we could use a crystal wand we found on the body of Seb Rashidi as a key.

Free of this chamber, we discovered nearby more cells, these containing our ten remaining companions. We freed them and managed to avoid any possible conflicts—such as between Sartaj Bharatra and Maqsood Musaru or between the spider creature and us. In the later case, Kiso Mngani helped open a dialog with this being, who was revealed to be intelligent, if wild and scared.

After also finding our companions’ belongings, we decided to see if the crystal wand would allow us to leave Al-Mhuqtabel, for Seb Rashidi said that his permission was required to leave. Indeed, the wand opened up a portal and we all escaped through it, finding ourselves within The Great Library of Akkarid

Session 06

Session 06

Soleira 6

Our penultimate journey via the Glass Artifact. Whatever comes next, I shall be happy to never hear another joke about “touching my glass rod.”

We awoke in darkness, having been found by a Daricassan by the name of Lazar Al Rakim. We were still in Tamba Khoya, but as this man seemed to be the same who we had earlier found dead, something clearly was different…

Interestingly, the fact that we have arrived here not only close to the time we had on our last trip, but actually later casts the significance of our time travel into some doubt. Obviously, something notable occurred in the Spring of Ash, something of note to the forces behind the Artifact, that is, something more significant than at any other time or location we have visited.

After some quiet negotiations, we got to know our new guide a little better. He resonated with the Artifact and we persuaded him to touch it. I had hoped that, perhaps, if the artifact was breaking its apparent time-travel rules, it might also break its rules for extraction, but no such luck. As we already “collected” Sartaj Bharatra and Maqsood Musaru—aside from us the only living people in the mine last time—this meant there was someone, or some_thing_ we had yet to encounter.

We followed Lazar a ways until we yet again encountered the flying gnoll-like creatures. This time, however, they were not nearly so successful against us, with much credit going to Lazar’s powerful magics, exactly what one would suspect from an Imrebat. (What a Raqaejahn soldier was doing in Zameen during the Spring of Ash is another quandary altogether.)

After defeating the creatures, called Marrash, and some of their zombies—according to Lazar, these strange, Outsider creatures are responsible for the undead scourge—we met Maqsood Musaru again, leading to a tense discussion of our purpose here and of our knowledge of the ancient metal structure behind the rock wall. And, again, Sartaj was on his trail, accompanied this time by several soldiers. Alas, there was no compromising with him—for what did we have to offer save for handing over Lazar?—and had to fight. It is only a small comfort that it was Lazar who struck down this Sartaj in the end.

The immanent threat dealt with, we ventured yet again into the depths of the mine. We happened upon ritual site, where some spell had gone awry and only with the ultimate sacrifice were the spellcasters able to undo their mistake. It seems plausible that this is how the Marrash entered the mine.

Further, the tunnels grew light from some mysterious source. In a dead-end chamber grew a strange, glowing tree, a Saramite Tree, a thing of which most of us had only heard briefly mentioned in legend. Maqsood and Lazar seemed frustrated that it bore no fruit, but we had not much time to ponder this for two Spawn of Kyuss, like the hideous, rotten thing we had previously encountered, had followed us.

Instead of destroying these abominations, however, we had an additional challenge in store for us, for Lazar tasked us with bringing them within reach of the Tree, while we ourselves kept our distance. While we braved their hideousness, their repulsive grasp, and their monstrous, flesh-eating grubs—a thing I fear will haunt my dreams for some time to come—Sehera, Indira, and Feng bound them in rope and dragged them to the Tree, which destroyed them.

From their energies, the Tree grew a strange fruit which Maqsood shot after we found shelter. The resultant explosion tore the Tree apart and a section of the wall as well, revealing a tunnel.

Following this tunnel led us to the interior of the metal structure, a cyclopean chamber of strange geometries, miles across. As we explored, Nessisus was seized by a violent fit, falling to the ground. Almost immediately, the structure began coming to life, complex patterns of runic symbols glowing with life.

Later, Nessisus described the experience as a powerful vision. My description would not do it justice however, and surely he will immortalize it in song.

Eventually, we found an entrance into a tunnel, which led to a nexus of many tunnels. After choosing to continue straight ahead, Nessisus was beset by another fit, another vision he said. I had an aunt who had fits like this, who also claimed to have visions. She began to change and died painfully. I hope Nessisus is correct about the nature of these episodes, but perhaps we should drag him to a physician… and perhaps a cleric.

As before, his episode seemed to trigger another change in the structure around us and, from everywhere, these things began to awaken. Roughly like a man in form, they were tall and gaunt and they looked at us with hungry eyes. As there seemed to be no end of them, we sought to outpace them, running down the corridors until we reached another chamber, within which stood a mighty statue, not unlike others we had passed in this strange structure. The Glass Artifact resonated with it—perhaps it was an inactive golem or some even stranger being—and we touched it.

As great violence beset our surroundings it whisked us away again…


We awoke bound. Memories flooded back, vague patches of a man questioning me, asking me my story.

Moments later, that same man entered, he had called himself Anton De Orlean, along with a woman who looked almost exactly like Lydra Geb, and a man who bore a similarly exact resemblance to Abbet Bhujem. They spoke briefly of preserving us—and of disposing of the “others”—before “Abbet” left, leaving us with de Orleans and “Lydra.”

But he, himself was not who he appeared to be. He was none other than Anansi in disguise, as he revealed by spitting web at Lydra. He freed us and gave us some cryptic remarks before vanishing…

And so the tale of our journey by the Glass Artifact comes to a close but, dear reader, the greater story is far from over. Indeed, I suspect it has only just begun…

Session 05

Soleira-5, Day 1

We awoke, bound to chairs. This time, the Glass Artifact had deposited us in a Itwaari military camp, and so we were promptly found and detained.

As we would come to learn, the apparent jump back in time that we experienced was far greater than any before. Twelve years, in fact, relative to our chance meeting in Sefet. At this time, Itwaar held military dominion over Zameen, and our host, Samanya Dinesh Jayendra was commanding forces in the Northwestern Steppes to suppress a rebellion.

Unfortunately, we do not have accurate references of time for our second and fourth journey, but the amount of time we progress back in time seems to grow at increasing rate. After this, we may have one more journey before the artifact’s sides are filled. I wonder how far we will be sent back next? My first thought is that, perhaps we will come to an event that has been the source of the divergences we have experienced from the world we knew, but when I recall that according to Marid al-Husam, the Khayyam al-Mahir of his experience was a full-blood Anari—and thus significantly older by virtue of the elves’ long, slow lives—we would have to go back very far indeed for all of the differences to be accounted for…

It is possible, of course, that I am mistaken in my hypothesis of multiple universes. Indira pointed out that it is possible that not every place the Glass Artifact has brought us to is necessarily a new universe. After all, every contradictory thing we have noticed only contradicts Soleira Prime, not each other. There could be only one additional universe.

That would be a valid solution to our quandary, but it lacks elegance. If multiple worlds are possible, as seems to be the case, why would they stop at two? How could there be only one event momentous enough to create a new history? If multiple realities are possible, why would all realities not be possible? Of course, that is perhaps a digression. I believe Indira’s point was not that there would only be two universes, but that the Artifact is taking us through the history of one. I’d ask her to clarify, but she is… occupied at the moment.

Forgive my tangent. I have had much fine wine tonight. When we awoke, bound by the Samanya, we were questioned. Though Feng’s belligerence could have cost us our heads, it was ultimately his words that persuaded our captor that we were not spies.

Of greater difficulty was persuading him to return the Glass Artifact to us. He wished to send it to be examined by one Sanjay Ere, a specialist in magic and Indira’s father. This offhand revelation shocked Indira, understandably, for her father had been enslaved when she was a child. If we had gone to the Elemental Plane of Air, I wonder what we would have beheld.

But that was not to be our destination. The Samanya decided we were of little use to him, and offered us our freedom and the Artifact in exchange for a favor. We were to travel to “Tamba Khoya” with a man named Sartaj Bharatra and to assist him on his mission. After meeting Sartaj, I suspect the Samanya hoped to bury several problems simultaneously in that mine.

To say Sartaj gave a strong first impression is an understatement. He seemed a wild man, debauching himself on wine, women, and song, and he greatly misinterpreted what we meant when we told him that the Samanya sent us to him. After he recovered from Maisha’s response to his advances, we were all able to clarify our situations.

He was a member of the Order of the Silver Sun, though fallen into disgrace. As penance, he was dispatched to hunt a fugitive, Maqsood Musaru, whose crime was being resurrected, violating Samsara, a crime punishable by death. This Terashal was once an Itwaari sharpshooter, though now he fought for the Zameeni rebels and had become a dire threat. Sartaj had pursued him for a long time, cornering him in Tamba Khoya, an abandoned copper mine.

The Glass Artifact has not been returned to us yet, but I would not be surprised if he was one of those we have been sent to meet.

We have spent a fine evening with him, sharing stories and song and much wine. But now, as the night’s revelries draw to a close—and I write this on some borrowed paper—I am struck by a hint of melancholy. Sartaj has quickly become friends with us, particularly with Indira, but we have not been fully honest with him. Though we have told him some of our story, there are matters of which he does not know, such as my growing suspicion that the other person we must “collect” for the Artifact may be his quarry, Maqsood Musaru. Though we have gladly offered to help him in his mission, depending on what events unfold, we may have to rescind that offer…

The confusion I had when we “collected” the spider-creature in the Sheel Khali Desert has grown into a gnawing suspicion. Our purpose remains unknown even to us and our methods do not feel honorable.

Day 2
Upon the dawn, we were roused and given our supplies and given an opportunity to acquire some new ones. Tamba Khoya was not far from the camp, so our journey was quick and uneventful. When we arrived, I had an opportunity to check on the Glass Artifact, which did indeed react to Sartaj. We then delved into the darkness of the mines.

Though the mine had been used as a stronghold by Zameeni rebels, no activity had been noticed for days and scouts had not returned.

We soon found out why, for some force was reanimating the dead. Fortunately, the Order of the Silver Sun specializes in banishing the undead, and so Sartaj was of great help. Periodically Maqsood shot at us from the darkness in an attempt to drive us off, but he only succeeded in confirming our path of pursuit.

At one branch, we happened upon a dead-end, where several jars of an explosive substance were stacked, perhaps to open up a new tunnel. On the roof of the small chamber were strange eggs… From back down the tunnel, Maqsood lit the fuse, which Sehera promptly cut, but then the eggs then began hatching. In all stories I have heard, things that hatch out of mysterious eggs in dark caves are rarely healthy for adventurers, so most of us ran down the hall while Sehera—the fastest of us—stayed with Feng to light the fuse again. But the creature that hatched was not a threat but kind of cute.

Indira went back to see what it was and was instantly smitten by the tiny flying snake hatchling, which she has adopted as a pet. However, Maqsood had, apparently, remained hidden at the edge of the tunnel and shot the jars, detonating them.

He escaped in the confusion—he must have been right on top of us—but we had wounded companions to tend to.

The wall the explosives broke revealed something strange, the wall of an ancient metal structure, inscribed with strange markings. I wish I had thought to get a rubbing of these symbols at the time, for we were not able to decipher them.

We continued pursuit and encountered a pair of strange flying beasts, not unlike winged gnolls, who attacked us with arrows, driving us down a narrow corridor, where a cluster of zombies which had been pursing us overtook us. Though the zombies were destroyed quickly, unfortunately, there was little we could do to combat the flying creatures. Fortunately for us, however, they also ran afoul of Maqsood, whom they pursued, giving us a chance to continue.

Eventually, we found a stair leading to a lower level of the mine, where we discovered the corpse of a Daricassan, perhaps Maqsood’s spotter, and a particularly hideous undead creature. Upon defeating that beast, we came upon Maqsood.

Though Sartaj wished to slay him immediately, the Glass Artifact resonated with our quarry. Though we convinced Maqsood to touch the Artifact, we also had to break Sartaj’s trust. Embracing the place of cold authority within my mind, where such decisions must be anchored, made it possible to do—exactly as my father taught us—but no less unpleasant.

I have not had many friends in my life. Many brothers and cousins, of course, and a few who I would count as true friends as well as family, but that is different. That night in Sartaj’s camp is one of the first times that I have spent in easy enjoyment with ones who I could call peers. It distresses me to have tarnished it thus. I hope we have a chance to meet Sartaj again. We used him unfairly for our own ends. I suspect he could have been a great friend; now the best I can hope for is to atone, so that we do not have to be enemies.

Session 04

Soleria-4, Day 1

We awoke in a hut, a year before our journey began, with a strange man watching us. Just another day on this odd adventure.

Again, more time has passed for our muscle memory, but not for our perception of the past. Feng has mused that, perhaps we have been having adventures that we had forgotten. Sehera disagreed, but was unable to offer a counter-hypothesis. Whatever the truth, we do not have enough information to accurately discern it. With only a few blank sides left to the Glass Artifact, hopefully we’ll get some answers soon…

The hut was in a Khonoman village called Mji Mkuu, in the Jua Nyasi savannah. We had appeared not far from this village and were brought here before waking up. Troublingly, Maisha and Nessisus were not with us.

It was here that we met Abbet Bhujem, the Bu’ade warrior-monk who had found us with the aid of his spirit ally Kupata, a lunar crane-spirit. He seemed trustworthy, so we told him as much of our story as we could while the village shared a feast with us.

He too had a troubling concern, for a Khedive, Kiso Mngani, and his honor guard Mikelebasah Ulehte, had gone missing on the way to some critical peace talks. We suspected our problems may have been connected, and so we agreed to help each other.

The Glass Artifact resonated with Abbet but, as he touched it, the reaction stopped. This had not happened before. Perhaps there is an order to this that we must follow?

Abbet revealed one more thing to us when we described our companions to him; he had been receiving dreams of Maisha for some time now, and in his dreams, she was dying…

After the meal, we set on our journey, heading towards the location we were found in hopes of finding some trace of our friends. Instead, we found traces of the Blighters, a radical splinter of the Maasi, an opposition faction to Khonoma’s ruling spirit council. These corrupt shamans drain the energy from the Earth, leaving lifeless patches behind. This confirmed some of Abbet’s suspicions regarding the missing Elder.

Upon reaching the location we were found, we were attacked by a ferocious leonine spirit, a water spirit cursed to live on land. Though it fought viciously, I ultimately slew it with a thrust of my rapier.

We then discovered some tracks, stretching far into the distance, which we followed for the remainder of the day.

I write this later, having obtained the story from our then-errant companions.

Nessisus and Maisha awoke, bound together in a large cauldron, filled with warm blood, a Xamuss Mchawi—a wise woman—sprinkling them with a strange powder, perhaps in some form of ritual, or perhaps as a seasoning.

Now, dear reader, you may suspect what they related to me to be nothing but hallucinations brought on by the powder, but I assure you this is as true as everything else I have documented.

In the midst of this strange scene, down from the moon came the great spirit Anansi, and he triggered in Nessisus a strange, dire vision that has left him shaken and questioning his very nature. Then, for reasons of his own, the great spider ordered the Mchawi to set our companions free and allow them to go on their way. He said they were “not doombringers,” as she had apparently thought. And, as a final boon, he left with Maisha one of his own legs, hardened into a deadly spear.

The Mchawi then told Maisha that was dying, for a part of her soul was missing, having been separated from her as she was from us. And so Maisha and Nessisus set off on their own journey, venturing West to find this lost piece, delayed only by a short, unpleasant encounter with some wild spirits of the wilderness.

Day 2

After breaking camp, we continued after the tracks, which ultimately led to the Mbaya Mahali, a region devoid of life—probably destroyed some time ago by the Blighters, or a force much like them. Kupata could accompany us no further, but we felt confident that we could continue on the path without him.

Our desert-made clothing proved a thankful boon, for the region’s only form of surviving life were billowing clouds of biting insects. Abbet was not so dressed, but his determination led him onward.

We spotted and approached a group of strange individuals, four men completely covered in cloth and speaking in eerie, sibilant voices. Between them they carried a long, ornate box, like a coffin for a snake. They were reluctant to provide us aid, nor to tarry with us for long, but we learned something quite interesting. Their leader was Mikelebasah Ulehte, one of the very men we sought.

We followed these people at a short distance—they made no effort to discourage our pursuit—and, in time, we began to see more groups, all nearing the same location.

When we arrived, we beheld some manner of ritual being prepared. More of the long boxes were lain out in a fan before a fire by these mysterious beings. And, enthroned beyond the fire was Mikelebasah Ulehte, with the missing Elder, Kiso Mngani, tied beside him.

Amazingly, arriving simultaneous to us were Maisha and Nessisus, who were alive, but not necessarily well. They had apparently also encountered box-carriers on their own journey and followed them to the same location.

We approached Mikelebasha, questioning his actions. My companions may find my formality in such situations strange. I suspect they would have been just as happy to run in, arrows flying, but there are too many unknowns in our situation to lose any chance to gain answers, even ones that may seem inconsequential at the time. I do not believe the artifact is sending us to these various locations at the times it does by chance. Additionally, Khayyam always said one should try to get the measure of a man before fighting him; that battle can be won before they begin.

Admittedly, I need to get better at that, for as soon as battle did begin, our opponent very nearly killed me. If it were not for the timely application of a healing potion, I might not be alive to record this journal.

Mikelebasah and his two Blighter guards were very nearly more than a match for us, even with the strength and chivalry of Abbet. Fortunately, Feng and Sehera freed Kiso before taking any other action, and the Elder revealed himself to be a powerful healer, pulling us back from the brink of defeat.

Feng also had him touch the Glass Artifact, which reacted in its usual fashion.

Once our foes were defeated, we tried to solve the puzzle of the boxes, for we suspected one of them contained the fragment of Maisha’s soul. Fortunately, Kiso was able to pinpoint the correct one and she was reunited with the absent part of her. At least, that is what she tells me happened.

It was then that Anansi showed himself again. As much of a surprise it was to Maisha and Nessisus, it was an even greater surprise to we who had not encountered him previously. I have seen many strange things in the past days, but few so strange as Anansi.

He took back his arm from Maisha—it had served its purpose in wounding Mikelebasha—and, to the shock of all, touched the Glass Artifact, causing it to react to him instead of, as we had predicted, the noble Abbet.

He laughed as he vanished with Kiso, calling us “Doombringers…”


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