Two weeks pass in the pholgiston…
“What in the 9 Hells is that thing?” I exclaim as I point to a strange orb-shaped ship covered in metalic tubes and tentacles in the distance.
“Beholder ship,” Constance replies quietly as she walks up to stand beside me to stare out the window. “We’re going to have to take it slow and quiet until they pass… we don’t want to draw undue attention from them right now.”
“Now, she says…” I chortle. “I could do just fine never having to encounter a Beholder in person, let alone their ship.”
“Hmmn… perhaps I could paint one… they are quite intricate after all,” Constance wonders to herself. “For many, a good depiction might be the closest they’ll ever come to one.”
“Well, if you ever need any assistance, it might be a good break from the lab,” I mutter. Group activities aren’t really my thing… but I realize after the last incident with the book that I need to interact with the crew in more… positive ways if I want to get anything done.
“I’d like that,” Constance smiles after getting over her initial surprise at my offer.
More days pass as we fly by everything from a school of Space Sharks to a few more galleons with the same scarlet sails as The Sparrow Hawk that atacked us.
“So what is the plan of action now?” I ask in boredom and frustration as I set my empty glass loudly on the bar. “How about going to somewhere where we can get to Sigil, so we can find out why The Rule of Three tried to burn our ship down?”
“Well, I was thinking about that,” replies Constance. “We need a trusted person to leave on the main ship while we go planetside… and we also need a smaller craft that will allow us to do it. The Bubbersaint is just too big for your usual landings in lakes and such.”
“And just where would we get what we need?” asks Waylond curiously.
“I figured we’d head to The Dock, actually.”
My eyes widen at the thought of heading to the infamous Arcane trade city. “Have you ever heard of Arumundai by any chance?” I ask the Maztican pilot nonchalantly as I lean on the helm beside her. “It’s a closed sphere no one has been able to get into for years. That is… until the Arcane sold the entire star system to the Batazu.” That got her attention at least. “The Arcane are involved in shady dealings, and not only should they not be trusted… they should be investigated.”
The Dock… from what I’ve learned fro Hodey, it’s an Arcane trade city mostly run by the Shu and the only one on Torril. The massive crater the Dock is built into is inaccesible by anything other than space craft, making it perfect for the Arcane’s uses.
“Welcome to the Dock,” announces a willowy yellow-skinned man with long white hair and beard. “If I could speak with your Captain, I would gladly inform your most honorable one of the necessary tariffs and forms in order to visit our illustrious city.”
“He’s all yours, Constance,” I joke before ducking into the shadows. Let her deal with the red tape… I’m more interested in a certain red banner I saw on a ship down the way, because I swear it’s the same one I saw during our fight. My suspicions are confirmed as I take in the pock-marked hull and scorch marks from my lightning spell. I grin to myself as I spy the captain walking down the gangplank and step into a side alley before calling Omen to me. “I need you to keep an eye on him, my friend… watch what he does and who he talks with, and report to me when the bell tower strikes.” I feed him a few pieces of salted pork from my pouch before stroking his feathers and sending him on his task.
Taking the opportunity, I decide to do some local information gathering about the Arcane while wandering the docks… but alas, all it gets me is sore feet and a warning from about asking too many questions. I tried some inquiries as to their enemies too… because living in Ribcage has taught me that the enemy of my enemy can be my friend… for now. From what I was told about the Dizintar, however… there’s a reason they’re somebody’s enemy. I mean really… when you’re a sentient suit of black plate mail, you don’t have a lot of choices in life. It might be useful finding out if they’re doing something horrible to cause the Arcane to work together with the Illithids, however. We shall see.
When I get back to the ship, however, my fantasies of hot baths and servant boys are quickly interrupted by the excited squealing of a gaggle of jet black Kobold females hanging about outside.
“WE LOVE YOU, HODEKIN!”
Oh dear gods… groupies. Thankfully it doesn’t take much to sneak passed the awestruck kobolds and I’m able to finally make my way to the bar where Omen should be waiting if I’m lucky.
By the time I’m done with my fourth drink I’ve learned from Omen that the captain of the ship went off to have a heated argument with someone from the Elven fleet of all things. I guess even those poncy poofs accept bribes once and a while.
“I think we should go get some dinner and see about maybe replacing the cook,” Constance tells Waylond as they walk past me through the bar. “I picked up some pamphlets while looking around, and this Bernard Grimley guy looks good. It says he cooked for Blackstaff, even.”
“Hmmn… looks like we’ll have to make sure we’ve got staff who speak Gnome, just in case.”
“I’m sure it won’t be a problem…”
Oooh boy… this is going to be interesting. I can’t help but snicker at the thought of our new ships cook being a racial enemy of Kobolds. As long as he doesn’t spit in my food, everything will be fine in my book.
Well if they’re going to be busy unintentionally stirring things up for Hodey… I might as well have some fun of my own. I follow the sounds of squealing down the hall into the common room where the wayward Kobold is “entertaining” his new guests and shuffle into the room with a hunched back and rubbing my hands together as I sniff the air. I walk around the edge of the group of Kobold women and bend down to noticeably sniff each one. “This one smells particularly fertile,” I cackle. “You did promise me a firstborn, after all!” I then bare my sharp teeth and grin widely. “I do hate to be kept waiting.”
I levitate out of the room for effect and hurry around the corner before I can’t hold the laughter in any longer. Gods… I’m such a stinker.
The next morning I’m awoken by knocking at the door. “There’s a visitor here who wishes to see the captain, miss!”
“Do I look like the captain to you?” I growl angrily as I fling open the door, my hair flailing about in the worst kind of bed hair imaginable.
“No ma’am! I’ll get you your coffee r-r-right away, ma’am!” stutters the nervous bellboy before running down the hallway.
By the time I’m ready to deal with people this incredibly bright morning, Constance is already cheerfully escorting an Arcane around the ship as he extolls on all his wonderful options that “he’d be more than glad to sell us at a great price.” Smug meddling creatures… I know they’re up to something… I just have to put the pieces together.
When the Arcane walks by, I mutter a chant from the book under my breath, “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn,” and smirk when I see the brief look of surprise as he glances my way.
“It doesn’t look like we’re going anywhere for a bit, so I’m going to head into town… things are just too crowded here for my tastes.” I sneer at the Arcane as I brush by him out the door and fly towards town.
I’d been thinking this over for a while now ever since they tried to steal the book from my room “for my own good.” There’s definitely a taint to the knowledge within those pages… but while I refuse to give up my quest for that knowledge, I will concede their point and see about getting atoned by a cleric. I don’t see what I need atonement for really… it’s not like I sacrificed people to the Dark Lord or anything… but hey, if it keeps them out of my room and the tentacles out of my brain, I’ll give it a shot.
The big question though, is which church would be willing to help out a Tiefling who willingly dealt with forbidden knowledge? Half of the goody-goody churches would probably burn me the second I stepped over their thresholds. Wait… what about the one I gave the book to in the first place? Silly Tiefling… maybe the Church of Boccob would understand my plight.
“Hey guys, guess what I found out!” exclaims Waylond as he hefts the strange silver gun we found on the portal ship onto the bar. “Some guys named Psurlons who live deep in the Astral Plane made it!”
“Curious…” I reply before sipping my afternoon booster of Dwarven coffee and Troll’s Piss. “…it seems that the Astral Plane keeps coming up. I did some research on Fedefensor when I was on church row and discovered that it was created by some church to fight the Githyanki who were invading, who also live on the Astral Plane. In fact, the sword was even rumored to be lost on the Astral Plane.”
“What about the Rule of 3?” asks Waylond. “Have you found out anything about them?”
“Get this…” I reply, warming up to the topic now that I can feel the caffiene flowing though my veins. "…he appears to most people as a Githzari (also from the Astral), but he’s actually a Cambian Half-Demon whose father is none other than that dashing Grazz’t, Lord of the Abyss. He’s a cryptic bastard who speaks in triads, and he owns a bar in Sigil called “The Styx Orision.”
“I wonder what he wants with us, then?” asks Hodey as he takes a seat at the bar.
“Well he is an information broker… so chances are he’s either doing this because someone paid him to… but he’s also a demon, so he could be doing it in order to screw somebody else over and move up on the proverbial ladder.” I shrug and take another sip of my now cooling drink. “Hard to say, really.”
“Oh by the way…” Hodey begins before grabbing some nuts from a bowl and scooting off his stool in a hurry, “theremightbesomemoreKoboldsaround.”
I groan to the bartender as the warning sinks in and take a long gulp to finish off my drink. “If anyone needs me I’m going to be in my lab… trying to invent some Kobold Repellant.”