Planejammer: Ad Astra Per Arcana

Katya's Journal Part 18 - A Stranger Among Us
NOBODY goes into my lab but ME!

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HODEY!” I growl loudly as I follow the sounds of cawing down the hall. “This is your fault!” I finally find the artificer in the helm room and stare at him coldly. “What were you doing in my rooms?”

“Hey, it wasn’t me… somebody broke into my lab too!” Hodey protests. “That’s why I was asking you to make the powder!”

“Someone broke into the Armory too actually,” offers Waylond.

My braid strikes out to wrap around Hodey’s waist and lift him up into the air. “Then why did Omen see a Kobold leaving my room?” I yell as I give him a slight shake for good measure.

“Well…” he begins with chagrin.

“You brought more of them on board… didn’t you?” I growl darkly.

“Hodey, you didn’t!” gasps Constance.

“But… I got them tuxedos and everything!” he protests. I set him down with a grunt of disgust as I cross my arms and look at him evily.

“Well, we might as well just go ask them,” offers Waylond.

It doesn’t take long to find two of the offending creatures… but I have to admit, they do look kind of cute in the tuxes. I still want to kill them for breaking into my room, though. Decisions, decisions…

Waylond walks up and grabs the two Kobolds by their suit collars and lifts them up into the air. “Spill it, little guys… why are you messing with our stuff?”

“It’s not us, we swear!” they squeal in Draconic. “We just wanted a job and a place to stay…”

“Omen?” I turn to the raven on my shoulder with a questioning glance. Unfortunately the answering squawk of “Kobolds!” doesn’t help me.

“Well you know, I DID cover my rooms with that powder you made for me,” offers Hodey. “Why don’t we summon the crew and check who has blue hands?”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” Waylond replies as he sets the Kobolds down. “Katya, why don’t you and I question the crew? You’re good at scaring people and stuff.”

“Meanwhile Hodey and I will search the rest of the ship for any stowaways,” says Constance.

The announcement is made across the ship for a gathering of the crew in the ballroom. Waylond paces up and down huffing and snorting in feined anger as the last of them shuffle in. Once they are all accounted for I let the show begin… with a though I levitate off the floor and drop my disguise, my hair flaring out like snakes as I hiss, “STAY OUT OF THE PRIVATE ROOMS!”

From the sounds of startled cries and knees knocking together, I get the impression that my message was received. I mutter a quick incantation and scan the crew for any magical effects or items they might’ve used to get past my wards… but there’s nothing.

I turn to Waylond to see if he can offer any insight when suddenly Constance and Hodey barge in through the doors toting a prisoner tied in ropes. Stu, the ship cook, gasps in shock as he stares at a replica of himself… but with a very melted face.

“Well it looks like you’ve been busy,” I chortle as I take in the tell-tale signs of a Doppelganer. I try a quick charm spell, but am not surprised when the creature merely shakes it off. “I tried to be nice…” I coo before I lean down and scratch a hex into his forehead and mutter the incantation for a curse. That seems to do it as it squeals like a kicked puppy… but still it doesn’t talk… even after Waylond ads a broken pinky finger to its problems.

“Hmmph… maybe he’s got a spell on him or something?” he asks in frustration as he takes off his hat and scratches his head.

Silly me… I should’ve done that first! I refocus my eyes with the detection spell still in effect, and notice a strange aura about the creature. “There’s definitely a silence spell involved… as well as a powerful geas.”

“So maybe it couldn’t help doing what it did?” Constance asks hopefully before patting down the Doppelganger and blushing a bright red when she accidentally touches its…well… what would you call it for doppelgangers, anyway? “Aha!” she exclaims as she removes a small silver amulet that looks like a textured rectangle.

“Nice make… looks like it offers protection from wards,” offers Hodey as he peers at it.

“Well if nobody minds, I’ll just…” Constance begins.

“Considering your past history with drugging me and stealing my stuff, I’d have to say I do mind… a lot, actually.” I reply with a raised brow as she tries to don the amulet.

“Fine… here Hodey, you can take it.” Constance says with a pout. Oh yeah… much better. Then again, that crafty bastard probably doesn’t even need the amulet to break past my wards.

“Well… we can’t question him because the magic is too powerful… so what do we do with him? Kill him?” asks Waylond.

“Can’t we just take him prisoner and deal with him later?” asks Constance.

“I know… how about we tie him to a rope and put him off the port bow until he slips into stasis?” I offer. “That way he won’t be hurt, he also won’t cause us any more trouble, and we can find a way to question him later.”

“Yeah… that should work, actually.” Waylond picks up the doppelganger under his arm and turns to the rest of the crew still huddled nervously. “False alarm, guys… sorry about that. But do please be aware that the laboratories are off limits and potentially very dangerous… so for your own sake, don’t go in there.”

“In the meantime I suggest we go through our inventory and make sure nothing is missing,” says Constance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning I’m awoken by a bell echoing across the ship. “Gods damn that ringing… this better be good!” I mumble as I stumble out of bed to join the others on deck to find Waylond holding a frayed rope and scratching his head.

“The sneaky bastard escaped!”

“Well let’s turn the ship around and find him, then!” replies Constance.

“And spend all day looking for a needle in a haystack? No thanks,” I mutter. “Besides… how did he escape stasis, anyway?”

Our thoughts on the doppelganger are soon interrupted by more pressing matters, however, as the sounds of shouting and panic reach us from the other side of the ship.

“What the heck is going on?” bellows Waylond when suddenly space ripples next to our ship and reveals a Hammership ready to launch grappling hooks. A quick glance at their standard reveals a black flag with a red Illithid skull on its field.

“Fantastic…. pirates!”

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Katya's Journal Part 17 - The Party
and of course, the Afterparty...

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The next morning Waylond and I are in the bar area of the ship preparing for the party when Clio shuffles in with an… odd… look to her eye. Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t finished my coffee… but something just feels off.

“What did you do with the book, Katya?” she asks in a monotone voice as she stares at the wall behind the bar.

“What book would that be?” I ask warily as my hand sneaks under the bar to my spell component pouch.

Her head turns to stare at me unblinking for a moment before her mouth opens to scream… but instead of noise a mass of tentacles explodes from her and rips her head in two.

“What the hell?” Waylond yells as he lifts a table as a shield and unsheathes his axe.

Not your hell, Waylond… more like from my nightmares! I fight to breath as I fall off my stool in fear. I can feel the piece of fur in my hand and without thinking of the potential consequences mutter the words of my latest spell.

KRAKOW!

Lightning shoots across the room into the writhing mass of tentacles that once was the hapless Division 7 agent and arcs into its body in a dazzling display of destruction. It tries to grab me with one of its tentacles during its death throes, but I just manage to scoot back into the corner of the bar and watch in disgust and fear as it dissolves into a blob of goo smoking on the floor.

They were supposed to stay in the shadows… they weren’t supposed to come here… not a nightmare…not dreaming…not…not…

“Katya? KATYA!”

“Hmm? What?” I mutter and stop rocking back and forth. Focus… maintain…breathe… “I’m ok, Waylond.”

“What the heck was that thing?” he asks as he points to the dark stain on the floor.

“I think… I think Clio was touched by the Far Realms, and had been from the start. I saw the signs before she showed up all of a sudden… but I didn’t realize what they must have meant.” I rub my throbbing temple as Waylond helps me stand again. “She never was human, Waylond… she was a pseudo-natural creation.”

“Creation? By whom?”

I place a grateful hand on Waylond’s forearm and smile up at the Giff. “Some things we’re just better off not knowing, my friend. Come… let’s let the staff earn their pay and see what Constance is doing instead.”

~~~

It seems that Constance has her own issues… because the party is tonight and she still hasn’t coordinated the entertainment yet. Heh… I wonder if she wants to trade?

“Katya! Just the person I wanted to see! Do you think… well, we were going to have a set cruise path over the sea and in the air and I was wondering if you could create this illusion for the party?” She runs over to me and hands over a sketch hopefully. It’s not a bad idea, honestly… but…

“I’m sorry, Constance… I don’t do illusions. That’s more Hodey’s thing.” I roll up the parchment and hand back the sketch. “If you’re wanting entertainment, however… you should just stick to the sea.”

“Why’s that?”

I grab her by the shoulders and stare into her eyes. “Because he sleeps there.” Constance’s eyes widen in surprise and I have to bite my tongue to keep from laughing as she runs off to find Hodey. Maybe now she’ll stop asking me about this cruise business.

People run about like chickens as the hour of the party looms nearer. Me, I just do my best to stay out of the way. It’s when I’m lurking outside that I notice some of the rich and affluent of Greyhawk are showing up early. Thankfully Constance is on the ball and ready to deal with these overstuffed roosters.

Ah… so the pudgy one is this Lord Falcon who wants his share of the profits. I mutter a quick detection spell and see that he’s covered in protective and melee-enhancing magic… but nothing that might, I don’t know… set the ship on fire.

I’m sure these guys can handle things. I quietly weave my way through the increasing crowd, taking note of a few particularly interesting people on the way. From the whispers about the man in the blue coat I find out that he’s Tenser of “The Eight.” Wasn’t his name on The List? I watch curiously as he walks up to Guard Captain Robilar and pulls out a Dragon Chess piece and flips it on its side before walking off.

Curious… chess games… often symbolic for political manipulations. Chess games… who was known for their grand chess games… Tain. Tain the Reigar.

“Hodey!” I can hear Constance yelling as I make my way down the hall to my rooms. “Where’s the dancing leprechauns you promised?”

Yeah… definitely going to my room now… after a side trip to the bar, anyway.

~~~~~~

Ugh… what did I drink last night… all I remember is the constant yammering and fake smiles of strangers grating on me like nails on a chalkboard. Well… that and calamari, for some reason. <hurk>

…. I wipe my face drearily as I stumble out of the bathroom looking for coffee… only to find the rest of them all cheery and chipper, and of course talking about the cruise ship again. Arguements abound over how much money they’re going to need to fund their staff and what to do with the profits. I tried to enlighten them on the business practices of Hell once, but they didn’t feel like having to deal with all the bodies the next day.

“So where should we go for our next tour run?” Constance asks cheerfully.

Suddenly there’s a commotion and voices down the hall. The noises grow louder and a figure bursts into the bar followed by two guards. It takes a second before I realize where I’ve seen the bedraggled old man before…

“Give us the book!” he gurgles before grabbing the rags about his chest and ripping… taking his skin and ribs with him as this disgusting goop filled with teeth and eyes pours out. “Gibbering Mouther!” I yell before ducking behind the bar and hurriedly putting in my earplugs.

Alas my warning is too late for Constance, who is dazed by the insane chattering of the slime. They’ll have to try harder to effect me… this is what I hear in my nightmares already. I peer over the bar and strike the abomination with a Frostfall spell as Hodey does his best to protect Constance. One of its mouths manages to chew on the end of his tail before Waylond slices it in twain with his axe. A splatter of the black goo that held it together lands in Constance’s face and she falls to the ground in a panic as it blinds her.

“Get it off! Get it off!” she screams as she claws at her face.

“Calm yourself, Constance.” I hold her head still and mutter an incantation of healing as the goop hardens and flakes off.

“You call yourself GUARDS?” Waylond bellows at the two frightened humans in armor. “If you let somebody like that through again, I’m going to put you overboard myself!”

I help Constance up and give her a stiff drink before I take a stool at the bar and huddle over my steaming cup of coffee like a lifeline. “Well there’s always the church of St. Cuthbert,” I mutter. “Because you know… it’s not like we were warned about impending doom or sent on a quest or anything.”

“Gods you can be such a downer, Katya. This is your fault, you know. You and that book…”

“It’s a talent I have. And hey, I gave ‘that book’ to the Temple of Boccob, thank you very much. I don’t even have the thing anymore, so let’s not start, ok?” I roll my eyes at her. “I was looking through the library yesterday and discovered that the Silver Sword of Fedefensor… you know, the other item we were tasked to find to fight an impending darkness, was made to fight Githyanki and was wielded by a famed paladin. Might have something to do with those Githyanki Pirates that attacked you back in the Astral Plane… you never know.”

“Oh yeah… thanks for reminding me,” Constance replies as she scratches her head in thought. “Cuthbert… he’s a god from Greyhawk, so maybe we can find something here in the city before we leave. Let’s go into town and I’ll do some asking around.”

“Now see? You used to lament about how Hodey said you weren’t useful… but where would we be without our human, eh?” I chuckle before finishing off my coffee. “Let me go get my things.”

The morning passes as we make our way through the city of Greyhawk without much luck. Unfortunately for us, St. Cuthbert seems to be one of those pious saints who doesn’t like ostentatious temples. Just our luck. Constance eventually finds a paladin who knows of a shrine dedicated to him on the road on the other side of town, however… so after a quick drink and picking up Hodey back at the ship, we go for an afternoon hike. Makes me wish I had learned that Mount spell after all…

After passing an odd-looking bald man with a rather rude monkey we travel an additional 5 miles to finally find a wooden shrine propped on the side of the road with a runestone at its center. Words around the edge declare it to be “The Saint Among Us.” as it displays the image of a very large club.

“Well, since we’re here and all…” Waylond removes his hat and walks up to touch the shrine. A light shines briefly around the wood as words appear and quickly fade again. “Well dang!”

“Let me try!” exclaims Hodey as he touches a claw to the shrine. “Dear club guy… where’s your mace?” Suddenly the transparent image of a large human forearm and hand appears with a club 3ft long and whacks Hodekin on the nose.

“Well I’m not going to try it until Hodekin apologizes to me,” says Constance in a pout. “Because I’m obviously not good for anything, right?”

“Why in the Hells are you letting a Kobold dictate your own self-confidence?” I groan as I rub my temples.

“Fine.” Constance rolls her eyes and goes up to the shrine, whispering something about ‘bopping people over the head’ to it. Suddenly a story in shimmering text appears on the wood. I can just make out the title “The Boy Who Cried Orc” before it fades again.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Waylond wonders. “False alarms about something?”

“Come on…touch it, Katya, I dare you!” says Constance with a grin as she points to the shrine.

“Why should I? Besides, that’s why we brought you along.” My braid slithers out and wraps around Hodey’s waist as my eyes turn a solid black and I hover a few feet into the air. “Now if you don’t mind, my feet are killing me… we will see you all back at the ship.”

I wish I could say that I managed to fly all the way back… but hey, if my mother taught me anything, it’s that impressions are important. The skills I learned last from the book before I gave it up are still quite new… but at least it managed to shave off a few miles from the return trip. Once we make it back to the ship I figure I’ve got at least an hour of peace and quiet that I can enjoy in the library with another cup of coffee before I am subjected with talk of cruise ships again.

An hour later…

I do believe I am finally feeling functional again after my third cup. I wonder if Hodey can make a device that delivers the same functions as coffee… I must see if there’s a magical equivilent sometime.

In the meantime, I do manage to find out a little more about Cuthbert. Pious doesn’t even begin the describe this guy, apparently. Apparently he was such a goodie-goodie that he achieved minor godhood after being brought to this world from another by the Gods. I can’t help but chuckle… if the Gods brought us together here for a similar purpose, they must be wondering where they went wrong. While Cuthbert joined his fellow deities, it seems that his cudgel has been lost for some 200 years now.

As to the Silver Sword of Fedefensor, it was forged on some obscure Prime world centuries ago when they were getting invaded by ‘demons’ that were actually Githyanki. Now here I really have to laugh, as I know some demons where getting compared to a Githyanki is likely to get you disembowled before you can even think about grabbing a sword. Oh surprise, surprise… the sword was lost too, but somewhere in the Astral Plane. “Irony, you are a cruel mistress,” I chuckle to myself as a road-weary Constance enters the library.

“I wonder if we’ve got that ‘Boy Who Cried Orc’ story…” she walks over to another section of the library and looks back at my collection of books in disdain. “I don’t want to read your books…”

“Good, because we all know what happens when you do, don’t we?” I sneer as I close the book with a snap and leave.

Once we’re all recovered from our futile morning excursion it seems that the rest of the group is ready to be done with Greyhawk and wants to go somewhere called Realmspace so they can see how the ship handles. We travel across dimensions in an alien ship to receive dire warnings of an impending doom and are sent back to Greyhawk via powerful magics in order to do something about it and they want to leave.

OK… whatever. I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I’m going to be in my lab while you guys figure out what we’re doing. Try to fly smoothly… I tend to work with things that can be a bit… unpredictable.”

“Why am I the only one who flies the ship?” Constance moans.

“See, Connie? You can do something helpful!” Hodekin replies cheerfully.

“That does it… we’re going to go find some pilots to hire.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve lost track of the number of days we’ve been travelling now…. but I’ve done my best to keep busy by crafting some useful alchemical items. You never know when you’ll need a good vial of acid or anti-toxin. That reminds me… I should borrow Hodey’s labeling device.

Eventually we arrive at an asteroid colony called Ciri where they plan to find some new pilots. I decide to take the opportunity of their absense to craft one of the diagrams I found in the book in the hopes that I might conduct a ritual for guidance. Unfortunately after a half hour of drawing my only result is an intricate diagram covering the floor of my lab. Damn it… I must have missed something in the book. That’s what happens when you study while drunk, I guess. The party returns soon after with a cleric of Celestian and a cleric of Ptah in tow. I can tell, because I swear I could hear their bickering before they even made it all the way onboard. I chuckle to myself as I imagine joining in on their philisophical debate. Who knows… maybe the next time we take one of these long trips I might find a new form of entertainment to keep me busy.

We leave the system and after what seems like another 40 days out the crew are starting to get ill and morality is faltering. Apparently many of them have never been outside the sphere of Greyhawk, and it’s leaving them a bit… disturbed. I’m always willing to do my part to help… so when the others go about the crew doing their best to console them, I remind the crew I see that matters such as this are minor… and we should all take comfort knowing that if we should meet the true gods out here in space… they will eat us first. From the looks I’ve been getting in return, it doesn’t seem to be helping. As well… I tried, anyway.

“Hey Katya, been meaning to ask you for a favor,” Hodekin asks me as he rounds a corner and grins widely. Oh boy… that grin can only mean one thing. “Do you think you could make something for me?” See?

“I was hoping you could help me with some fingerprint powder… something I can dust my rooms with so I can tell if someone’s touching my stuff.”

“Yeah, shouldn’t be a problem,” I reply after a moment of thought. “I’ve got some ideas for a machine I was working on too… I’ve left my notes back in my lab though.”

I notice upon return to my lab that there are some new markings along the doorjamb… like it’s been forced, maybe. My fears are confirmed as I walk into the lab to find vials out of place and papers scattered over the floor.

“If I find that she’s gone through my things again….I swear I’m going to…” I grab my head in pain as the background slithering in my brain suddenly increases in volume. I take a deep shaking breath as I attempt to clear my thoughts and quiet the noises. After a few moments I unlcench my fists and look around.

“Think… Hodekin was worried about his things too…” and then it hits me. “Omen!” I call up into the rafters and smile as the raven caws and flies down to land on my outstretched arm. “Did you see anyone besides me come into this room?”

The raven hops from one foot to another and ruffles his wings before settling once again. “Kobold!” it squawks.

“Gods damn it, Hodey… I’d probably have helped you if you’d just asked!” I groan in frustration as I send Omen down the hall to search for the wayward Kobold.

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Katya's Journal Part 16 - Betrayal
I didn't show you the book for a reason...

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“Okay, let me get this straight. We’ve got the Rule of Three trying to burn us down before we even take off, and now some guy named ‘The Falcon’ is demanding his cut of the profits from the cruises you guys want to run?” I shake my head as I sip my coffee. “For the love of profit… you people really need to beef up your security if you’re going to take this venture seriously.”

I doodle idly on a napkin until an idea strikes me. “You know… with a properly worded contract we could not only keep him happy, but have him run security and still make a profit off of him in the long run.”

Sure, they moan and groan every time I start talking legal speak… but believe it or not, I’m actually trying to help these naive people. If they don’t get their heads out of the clouds we’re going to be too busy defending our ship from disgruntled thugs and thieve’s guilds to get any customers. Heh… they should try to start a business in Ribcage… then they’d know what I’m talking about. But whatever… let them have their fun… they’ll see when they’re ready to look… and finally believe when they can see.

“I’m going to go secure my rooms anyway… maybe I can get some good warding scrolls to keep people out of my labs.” I toss a few silver on the table and head out into a blessedly overcast morning.

~

By the time night falls my scroll cases are full and I’m ready for a very strong drink. The shadows multiply at night… it’s getting very hard to sleep when all I can hear is that damn slithering grating over my soul like an exposed nerve. Just get me to the bar and I will be fine… I slap a smile on the best I can as I walk into the now-stocked bar of our ship, dodging staff running about with arms full of linen and decorations.

Oh Gods… the party.

So many people… how can they not hear it? I run my nails roughly across my scalp and take comfort in the pain that helps me focus and walk towards the bar. It’s almost a constant background noise to me anymore… like it’s always just behind me and out of my line of sight, waiting to tap my shoulder and call me to my fate.

I’m sure they’ll hear it soon enough.

“Give me your strongest,” I declare as I slap down a suitable tip for the bartender. I’ll have to commend Hodey for this addition… it’s much easier to stumble home down a hallway then it is down a street.

“Aye-aye, one 9 Hells coming up,” he replies as he pulls out some protective gloves.

Once he’s done he hands over a thick glass mug with 9 different layers of alcohol… amongst other things. I’m amazed that he managed to maintain the bubbling and smoking. I’ll have to give him another tip if I’m still conscience by the time I finish this.

“Yes-s-s-s-s….” I breathe as I cup it lovingly and inhale the burning fumes. “This will do nicely.”

2 hours later… I think…

“I’m not da one whoish crazy, now. I’m da one whoish mad! Thish world’s crazy… whale ships, impending doom… bah! Only da book maksh sensh anymore.” I stumble off the stool and just manage to catch myself from falling down. “Gonna go to bed. Now.”

~

Blissful unmoving darkness… the comforting touch of a mother’s embrace…

<knock> <knock>

“Hey, Katya! I brought you some warm milk to help you sleep!”

“Go to Hell, Constance.” I mutter into my pillow.

“We’re all worried about you, so I’m going to stand here and sing until you let me in.”

The fading images of my mother’s smile have now been replaced with Constance worbling like a turkey. Damn that meddling woman! I mutter a few different curses I picked up in Infernal as I open the door, giver her and her glass of milk my best death stare, pull out a cricket from my pouch, and with a crunch between my fingers fall blissfully back to sleep in a heap on the floor.

Who knows how many hours I was out… but for once I think I actually slept. Maybe that’s the key… I should make some sleeping potions instead of relying on the alcohol. At least I won’t have to do my reading with a hangover anymore.

I stretch and start to make the bed… reflexively checking under the mattress to make sure…that… that… suddenly the mattress is flung across the room by my braids as I stare at the empty spot that used to contain my book. My fingers clench into fists and my mind races before settling on the glass of milk still waiting at my bedside.

Constance. A quick sniff of it reveals more than disgusting baby fluid from bovines… the blasted thing was drugged!

“That coniving little do-gooder… she just doesn’t know when to keep out of things, does she? We’ll show her what happens when people mess with my stuff!” I grab my head in pain as the slithering grows louder. “I’ll…we’ll…”

<knock> <knock>

“Um… you okay, Kat? I heard noises…”

I take a deep breath and plaster on my best grin as I crack open the door to find Waylond with hat in hand looking worried.

“Perfectly fine, Waylond. I just need to see Constance for a sec. Do you think you could take me to her?”

“If you’re sure you’re okay…”

“Couldn’t be better… I slept quite well, actually.” Keep smiling… he can’t hear it… “So please… take me to Constance.”

I follow the Giff into the helm room to find Constance going over her maps of the star systems and begin muttering the incantation for a Charm spell under my breath. I smile for true as she stiffens and turns to me. “Oh Constance… be a dear and get me the book you stole from my room last night, would you?”

“Yes… Katya…” she replies woodenly as she leaves the room.

“Connie, what are you doing? You said you wanted to take the book because she’s sick!”

I grin even wider at Waylond as Constance returns with the book in hand. “But I’m not sick, Waylond. I’m perfectly fine… other than finding out that the people I thought were my friends tried to drug me and steal from me.” I turn to Constance and flip open the book to one of my favorite parts; it has rather detailed illustrations.

“Now READ IT,” I instruct her coldy as I stab at the page with my nail. “You just had to be curious… never even crossed your mind to just ask me, did it? READ IT!”

“I’m gonna go tell the others,” Waylond says worriedly and quickly leaves. Just as well, really… he wasn’t the one who tried to drug me.

Constance’s eyes widen and her hair starts to fly about her in aggitation. Good… maybe if her ghosts don’t like it, they’ll have enough sense to stop her the next time she decides to interfere with things she doesn’t understand.

“I feel funny…” she mumbles.

“Yeah, that’s what happens when you’re exposed to dangerous magics and forbidden knowledge… and that’s exactly why I kept it hidden from all of you! As soon as you see them…. they start to see you.” With a sigh of resignation I drop the spell and take the book back into my sheltering embrace.

“It’s become clear now that the book is no longer safe here. As much as it pains me… I’m going to have to give this to someone who can appreciate and safeguard the knowledge it contains. If the ship is gone when I get back, I will understand.”

And with that I leave the confused Constance and head into the city with disguise in place. Perhaps one of the churches might be suitable. I laugh to myself. If I tried one of the lawful gods like Cuthbert the book AND I would both probably burst into flames. Hmmn… so that leaves… Boccob the God of Magic. Yes…that sounds good.

I fight the urge to keep looking over my shoulder as I grip the book tighter and make my way up the marble steps. A shambling old man comes out of the shadows of an alcove mumbling in strange tongues. I try to identify his words… but it’s like he’s speaking all languages at once… and none. A gleam of silver catches my eye as I lean in to listen. The symbol of Vecna! That dread necromancer… didn’t he end up fighting the gods themselves?

THE BOOK!” the old man hisses suddenly and I step back in surprise. “Give me THE BOOK!”

I let my disguise drop for a moment and hiss back at the old man… fangs bared and hair shaking like snakes about me head. “It’s MINE to GIVE!” I yell and quickly make my way up the stairs… sighing as I finally cross the threshold.

If Venca wants this…no…no… I must give it to someone who can keep it safe. These people won’t get rid of it, will they? No… knowledge like this is much to precious!

…I wonder if I can get some good scrolls for it in trade?

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Katya's Journal Part 15 - Whales on Fire

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“I can’t believe you’re bringing her,” mutters Constance as we hitch a ride up river to meet Tregazz with our ship in the morning.

“What’s with this weird material?” asks Hodey as he bites down on a brightly colored card embossed with numbers.

“Hey, give my back my ATM card!” yells Clio as she pats down her pockets for other missing items.

“Your…what?”

Clio sighs in frustration as she yanks the card from Hodey’s mouth and wipes it on the leg of her jumpsuit. “It’s…well… we use it to get money from our banks.” Hodey’s eyes light up… “I don’t think it will work here, though.” … and then he sighs in disappointment.

“So what are we going to do for crew?” asks Waylond.

“I still like the Elves…” I begin, but Hodey’s pointed tongue sticking out at me tells me what he thinks of that idea.

“Shares of the ship according to the amount of the race onboard!” declares Hodey with a grin.

“Oh no… we’re not going to be overrun by Kobolds,” admonishes Constance sternly. “Besides, how would we get customers? Most people give you the odd looks already, let alone a whole ship of you.”

“I could always write up an employment contract,” I offer as everyone groans.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eventually we make it to our destination to see our new ship for the first time. I still can’t believe they chose this monstrosity of a flying whale as our ship. How are we supposed to manage all of that? Oh, that’s right… with a crew… that we still haven’t agreed on… and didn’t bring with us. Great.

“Um… how are we supposed to fly this back to town?” Waylond asks as he scratches his head.

“I could use my iPhone to call the city,” Clio volunteers before grinning sheepishly. “That is… if you have wi-fi or cell phone towers…”

Anyway… I hold out my arm and my faithful familiar lands on it with a ruffle of feathers. “Omen, my invaluable friend… send this note to the dockmaster that me might get some crew out here to move this… this… thing .” I attach a small scroll to his leg and whisper a few words into his ear before he flies off with a squawk.

“In the meantime, lets check out the ship!” says Waylond eagerly as we all follow him up the gangplank and split up to check it out.

Hodey and I make our way to the starboard section of the main deck when we suddenly smell the faintest whiffs of brimstone.

“Don’t look at me, I bathed yesterday damn it,” I mutter.

Hodey snickers and I turn to give him an earful… but decide that the fact that his leg seems to be on fire is good enough… for now.

Hodey’s snickers turn into screaches before he whips out a device that covers his leg in foam and puts out the fire. As the cloud of smoke and foam subsides, I just catch the quick movement of a creature running behind some barrells and manage to grab it by its ankle with my braid.

“Mephits!” I growl in disgust as Hodey whips out a different device that shoots out what looks like a Magic Missile spell. Clio jumps back in surprise and tosses a flask from one of her pouches at it that splashes all over him… but doesn’t seem to do more than make him grumpy. From the sanctimonious smell of it, I’m guessing it was holy water. “Not that kind of demon,” I chuckle as I pull some components from my pouch and mutter an incantation that incases the Mephit in a sheath of ice. “So come on… you’ve got to be a vampire hunter… right?”

Hodey nudges the frozen Mephit with his foot and prepares his odd healing device. “Don’t heal him too much now… we just want to be able to question him,” I warn.

After a few minutes all that’s left is a pool of water and a shriveled cowering mephit ready to talk. “Answer our questions or you go back into the ice… got it?”

“Hey man… I’m just doing what I was told! It was The Rule of Three who told me to burn the ship down.” That tanar’ri bastard!

“Frelling berk,” mutters Hodey.

“So if he’s not a demon…” Clio wonders to herself.

“He’s from the Elemental Plane of Fire, actually… not your typical demon from the Hells or anything,” I tell her.

“Could you tell me more about their leaders, or organizational structure?”

“I’ve never wanted to go somewhere where everything was on fire long enough to ask, honestly,” I chuckle as the others make their way over to join us.

“So, Mephit… do you have anything else that might be useful?” the creature shakes his head nervously.

“Then I guess you’ve outlived your usefulness,” I reply with a wide grin as I pull out my dagger. “At least… alive, anyway.”

“Wait, don’t hurt him!” Cries Constance as she steps between us. “Just let him go.”

I roll my eyes and slap my hands to my sides in frustration. “Fine… whatever… not like spell components like these grow on trees…” I mutter to myself. "Barring anything else trying to kill us, I’m going to go scope out my rooms.

“So tell me more about this book you found,” begs Clio as she runs to catch up with me.

“Have you ever heard of the great prophet Lovecraft, by any chance?”

~~~~~~~

The next day begins with us… well them arguing over how they’re going to run this (shudder) cruise ship now that we’ve got it back to town. Silly creatures… I’ve tried to share my knowledge that I’ve gleaned from the book with them by explaining how cruise ships are pointless unless they’re in the water because he’ll only get mad if he has to chase his food… but they just don’t want to listen. That’s fine… they’ll be ready soon enough. In the meantime, at least Clio is willing to listen.

Rather eagerly, actually.

Clio and I decide to make our way to the local resturaunt to see if we can get some of this drink she calls espresso. Apparently it’s a concentrated version of the coffee that the Dwarves like to drink and it keeps you awake for long hours. That might be useful, honestly. If I can’t stop the dreams… perhaps I can just not go to sleep instead.

My thoughts of dreamless nights are soon interrupted by a young human boy running scared out of a side alley. I step over to the entrance and peer down it, doing my best to ignore the moving shadows, to find Waylond stuffing what looks like the corpse of a chain devil into a dumpster. “Now just what are you up to? If I knew you liked hunting devils I’d have joined you,” I chuckle.

“Oh, this?” Waylond laughs nervously as he jams what’s left of the body into the dumpster and quickly closes the lid. “This is just morning exercises… didn’t figure I’d bother anyone.” He dusts off his hat and quickly exits the alley to join us in our walk to the inn. “So did you hear? We’re going to throw a huge party on the ship with resturaunts, entertainment, the whole shebang!”

Oh Gods… kill me now.

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Katya's Journal Part 14 - Department 7
Guess who's coming to dinner?

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“Now that’s what I call customer service!” I joke as we all make our way into the room and have a seat to discuss business with the Arcane ship dealer.

“My name is Tregazz,” the Arcane begins.

Why does that sound familiar? “Wait… you wouldn’t be any relation to Stregazz would you?”

“He is of our same House, yes.” Tregaz replies calmly.

So… an Arcane tried to slip his mark on us without us knowing. I wonder why? Was he trying to track us, or send us a message?

“You are known to us,” he continues. “Tell me of this liquid Mithral you have obtained.”

“Check it out all you like, it’s in those jugs over there,” points out Waylond with a wave of his hat to the large jugs in the corner of the room.

A tall human in blue and white military dress comes into the room after knocking and sets a box on the floor before he walks out.

“Yes… I believe I deal can be achieved. Here are four Arcane Trade Bars for when you are ready to finalize the transaction.”

“We look forward to doing business with you tomorrow,” Constance replies with a smile. “Until then, we must discuss our options.”

“Until then,” Tregazz replies with a nod as he and his escort leave down the hall.

“Hot damn!” exclaims Waylond. “What should we get?”

“It must be crewed by Kobolds!” exclaims Hodekin excitedly.

“A Whale Ship! Let’s get a Whale Ship! We could set it up as a cruise liner and everything!” Constance adds with a grin.

By the Hells… a cruise ship? They may like dealing with the mundane people, but I’ve had about enough after trying to eek a living reading cards in Ribcage. Besides… I’ve got plenty to keep my busy right now anyway.

My finger traces the spine of the book in my pocket with a gentle caress as I roll my eyes at my friends. “I’m going to be down in the bar… just make sure that whatever we get I’ve got some private rooms to do my work. “ I turn to Hodekin and shake my finger at him. “No Kobold-only crew… if we want to run a (shudder) cruise liner, we need plenty of eye candy for the customers to look at. I suggest Elves.”

“Kobolds are loyal!” protests Hodey with a feigned look of innocence.

“To you… yeah,” I joke as I wave my hand dismissively at the bunch of them and focus my attention on what kind of drink to order instead.

The rest of them eventually agree on their Whale ship and come down to the bar to celebrate the new business venture. After a few hours of drink and good food we stumble out the door to head back to the inn for some much needed sleep. I’m hoping I’ve drunk enough to keep the nightmares at bay tonight…

“Streets looking pretty empty tonight,” Hodey mumbles as we make our way to an intersection by the brothels. I look around at the deepening shadows and can’t shake a feeling of something…unnatural. Instinctively I pull out my wand and cast a spell of armor about myself; best to be careful after all. A quick chant brings a glow to my eyes as I look to the shadows for any magical traces. I peer into the darkness and quickly take a step back in fear as I swear I see things moving and slithering in the shadows.

Suddenly there is a loud ripping noise and a flash of purple light. Constance turns towards the noise as the rest of us shield our eyes… and then quickly ducks as a humanoid figure flies out of nowhere and hits the wall before it sinks to the ground and stops moving.

“By the Gods!” exclaims Constance as she runs up to the fallen figure of a brunette woman in black clothes. “Is she ok?”

I tear my stare from the shadows that have finally stopped moving and shake my head to regain my composure. “Hang on… let me tend to her.” I kneel over the unconscious woman and mutter a few healing incantations. “She’ll be fine… she should wake up soon-“

“Who are you!” exclaims the woman as she grabs my wrist. “Are you cool? Are you on your way to a party or interviewing for a movie role, perhaps?”

What? Oh… it must be the white skin. “I’m actually exceedingly cool… something to do with genetics, probably. As to the rest, we just came from a party, and I have no idea what these ‘movies’ are. What’s your name?”

“Clio… the name is Clio.” She mutters as she moves to sit up and look around. “Where are we?”

“You’re in Greyhawk,” answers Constance.

“That anywhere near Stockton, California?” Clio asks with a nervous chuckle.

“I’m getting the impression that we should talk about this over more drinks,” I reply.

“A glass of water would be great, actually,” Clio responds as she stands up and dusts herself off.

“Oh no… you don’t drink the water,” Waylond warns. “Stick to ale… it’s got what’s good for you!”

“Come on, we were heading back to the inn anyway… we’ll just put off sleep for a few more hours while we try and fill you in.” Not like I was looking forward to fighting off the nightmares anyway… especially after that.

~~~~~~~~~~

After another hour or two of drinks and heated discussions from local religions to monster hunting theocracies we’re able to come to the conclusion that Clio is from the same reality where we visited Area 51. In fact… she’s a Division 7 operative to boot. I have to fight snickering as I can’t help but notice everyone else trying to scoot away from her while still sharing the booth.

“Was it something I said?” Clio asks.

“Don’t worry about them,” I chuckle as I move to sit to her other side. “We’re all monsters here…” I lean in and drop the disguise spell from my ring to give Clio a brief glimpse of my true face.

“Ahh!” Clio squeals as she scoots back into Waylond’s shoulder in the booth. She looks up nervously at the Giff and sits up, making sure she’s not touching anyone else. “So… monsters are real, I take it? Some of the races you mentioned I’d heard of in books… but they were never considered real per se.”

“I don’t know who you’re calling a monster, but last time I checked I was still real,” Waylond chuckles with a slight slur before taking another swig of beer.

“So… Division 7…” I begin. The Elan had warned us not to trust that group because of their strict practices… so our new friend is going to have to be handled rather carefully .

“Yes… we want to know what causes different people and different races so that we can keep things in balance.”

I tense at her words, because back home when someone wanted to keep something ‘in balance’ with other people/races it usually meant a campaign of genocide was soon coming. I quickly put a smile on my face and nod, however, as my mother’s advice comes to mind: ‘Keep your friends close… but your enemies closer.’

Besides… with the proper nudging towards the right groups, perhaps I can use her organization to my advantage.

“Now you all are getting into religion and politics… definitely not my thing,” says Waylong with a grunt as he stands up from the table. “I feel a song coming on… or perhaps it’s a really good belch… either way, I’ll be over by the musicians.”

“Sounds like fun!” says Constance as she and Hodekin get up to join Waylond. I chuckle to myself, because I know Clio was making them uncomfortable. Usually I’m the one making people uncomfortable, so I find it’s a nice change.

The night passes rather uneventfully for once after a few rousing choruses about bawdy bowlegged women and some philisophical debate over a few too many mugs of ale. I put Clio up in a room down the hall from ours and ask Omen to perch above the door and notify me if anything comes or goes into the room.

Sleep doesn’t come easy… too many things slithering in the shadows out of the corner of my eye. Maybe I can brew a sleeping potion tomorrow…

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Heinzelmann's Journal - Entry Ten

Captains Log: Entry Nine, Captain Heinzelmann Hödekin

What a barmy week! We decide to sell the Greyhawk in case bashers are chasing it or someone calls beef and we get scragged. Got a rorty bit of milk for Her! The new Ship wants to take a Ride, and i thought it would lead us to plenty of sparkle, so we decided to risk it.
Where it took us was pure wonky, full of kobold kings but not a kobold in sight. These berks said thanks for the ship, here is some party barkle, and off you go! I was not about to be beat by the monkeys and hipped again, so demanded reward for our effort! I did not mean to kill a coney, but the jinkscore was top shelf. Now we are off to get a ship built! We all got a good gate key here!
I AM SPREADIN’ THE GOLD!

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Katya's Journal Part 13 - Ship Shopping
So you say you need a ship...

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The next day after a long night tossing and turning, we are escorted to a large room with a metal plate in the ground enscribed with pentagrams and other markings. As I try to get a closer look, I notice that it’s not with any kind of pigment or fluid I recognize… it’t not even blood._ What is that… little pieces of metal? I’m jolted out of my thoughts as the device comes to life and seemingly controlled lightning sparks from one metal tower to another around the plate.

“The transportation pad is now active and ready for use,” the Elan announces as one of his aides sets four gallon jugs in front of us. “The liquid mithral we have provided should be more than enough to equip you with the kind of ship you require.”

“Let’s go before they change their minds!” mutters Waylond as he hefts the jugs under his large arms.

Solon bravely takes the first step through the portal, followed by Waylond and the rest. There’s a flash of purple light as my head screams in pain and I feel like my soul is being pulled in two by grasping tentacles… and then suddenly birds are chirping in a bright blue sky as we all collapse onto the soft grasses of a small hill not far from a large walled city in the distance.

“Where in the 9 Hells are we?” I groan… only to be answered by the tell-tale sounds of Constance emptying her stomach. I search through my pouches and grab a small vial that I drop a few pinches of herbs in combined with some of that Troll’s Piss I had left in a flask. “Here, drink this…” I mutter as I nudge her shoulder with it.

Constance looks up blearly eyed and mistrusting of the black bubbling concoction in my hand. “You can keep puking if you want…” she quickly grabs the flask and downs the drink with a wrinkled nose.

“Hey… where’s Khal and Solon? Are the jugs still here?” I hear Waylond ask worriedly. I look around to see if I can spot any trace of the Elf and the Gith…. but there’s nothing.

“I think… I think they’re gone,” I reply.

“What do you mean, gone?” asks Constance now that her stomach has calmed.

“I mean, gone… dispersed by the dimensions…reclaimed by the Farspace…. dead. For all I know… they might never have existed, now.” I bite my lower lip in consternation and shrug sadly. How are we supposed to find that Silver Sword now? Poor Solon… he was a bit naive, but not bad… for an Elf.

Constance looks saddened as her gaze drops to the ground. “I’m sure you can give them a proper eulogy later… but right now, we need to worry about what we’ve been tasked to do. Impending doom waits for no one, after all.” I pull my cloak about my shoulders and raise the hood to try and cover my demonic traits as best as I can. “We should probably head to that city.”

“Right behind you, Katya!” Hodey declares as he tucks in his tail and pulls his hat down low over his eyes.

Unfortunately it doesn’t take long in our walk towards the city to get distracted; being attacked by giant bears with owl beaks tends to do that. Thanks to our combined efforts, however, they are soon dispatched and I’m left wondering where to start with collecting of potential spell components.

“Oh Gods… you want to do what?” Constance asks with a slight green tinge to her face.

“I’m just going to cut out it’s eyes… maybe take a few claws and feathers…” I scratch my chin in thought as my braid takes a dagger to one of the slain bears and starts cutting. “Oh and get some blood… you never know when you’re going to need blood that isn’t yours.”

“I think I’m going to be sick again…” she mutters as she walks off into some bushes nearby.

“What about you, Waylond… do you want a claw for a trophy while I’m at it?”

“A… trophy?” Waylond asks curiously.

“You know… like after a successful hunt.”

“A… hunt?” he takes off his cowboy hat and scratches his head. “People go hunting animals for trophies? Seems kind of silly to me.”

And suddenly it hits me… Giff are vegetarians! “My mistake… it’s obviously not something your people do for fun.”

“Yeah… I’m more into buying ships with heaps full of money,” he laughs. “Come on… they’re going to leave you behind if you don’t finish up!”

“But…there’s so much left!” I sigh and look at the bear corpses with regret. I’ll just have to make due with what I got, I guess. “I’m coming…. I’m coming…” I mutter as I run off to catch up with the others.

Thanks to my disguise and Waylond carrying Hodey like a pet, we’re able to get through the gates of the city without much difficulty. Looking around and noticing a bit of a lack of non-humans around tells me I should probably keep my hood on for a while.

“Now I remember the name… the Green Dragon Inn! That’s where we should go,” announces Constance with a snap of her fingers.

The accomidations make it rather obvious that it’s not the best bar in town… but right now a comfortable seat and a mug of beer sounds just wonderful. “I managed to get us some rooms,” says Constance as she sits down at our table in the back with a handful of mugs. “Last I heard, the Arcane have been known to visit here… so I figure it’s a good a shot as any to try and contact one about a ship.”

“Nice work, Connie!” says Waylond before he takes a big bite out of the whole turkey on his plate. “I asked the old lady at the bar earlier, and she says Maldin’s is the place to go to sell the jugs. In the meantime…” he grabs the turkey in one hand and tips his hat to everyone else. “I’m going to go enjoy my dinner in my room.”

“Sounds like a good idea to me too… less odds of attracting attention,” I reply as I get up from the table and slip my hand into the pocket with the book. “I’ve got some reading to do anyway… so I’ll see you all in the morning. Hopefully

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning we all meet downstairs again for breakfast and can’t help but notice the well-dressed man in his 50s sitting at the Lord’s table on a raised dais as we walk by.

“Ho there, tall fellow! We don’t see many of your kind around here.”

“What…cowboys?” retorts Waylond.

“No… but we have had dealings with the Giff navy before,” he chuckles. “My name is Ricard Dimaris, and I am at your service. I see that you are busy now… but feel free to join me at my table later on, as I am sure we have much to discuss.”

“Yeah, let’s check out Maldin’s to see if we can get lucky!” Waylond announces cheerfully as he picks up the jugs and heads out the door.

I’d love to tell you what Maldin’s was like on the inside… but it seems the prejudiced bastard doesn’t like planars in his shop, and has put up a magical barrier to keep us out.

“Well that’s fine… I’ll just go and spend my money elsewhere!” I shout through the door with a pout. “Come on, Hodey… I’ve got a need to buy something expensive.”

One Chameleon Ring and a few scrolls later, Hodey and I make our way to meet at a resturaunt for dinner. Thanks to the ring’s disguise abilities, I’m finally able to forgoe the cloak and walk unafraid down the street. Yes… definitely a worthwhile device.

The rest of the group are already sitting at a table when we walk in and take a seat. “You’ll never believe how much we got!” he whispers loudly before taking another drink from his mug.

“You’re a bubber!” replies Hodey as he looks out of the corner of his eye at Omen perched in the rafters above.

“I will be more than glad to make you eat crow, Hodey… but if you ever touch Omen I’m going to find out if Kobold actually does taste like chicken.”

Hodey wisely takes to drinking in reply, and as far as I noticed, doesn’t look at my familiar again. Good thing too… I’ve heard Kobold tastes pretty disgusting, actually.

After an hour or two of drinking and plates of food we manage to stumble only slightly as we make our way down the street back to our rooms at the Green Dragon Inn. “I think we’re being followed,” Waylond whispers.

“Hodey?” I look to the Kobold with a raised eyebrow and with a nod he whips out one of his contraptions and we gesture everyone to turn down one of the alleyways. The alley turns to darkness with a thought from me as Hodey’s machine churns out a fog and another one lays a layer of grease at the entrance.

It doesn’t take long before we hear the sound of rushing footsteps that quickly turn to shouts of alarm as they slip and slide on the cobblestones covered in grease. I cast a Sleep spell upon them and all but two of them begin to snore peacefully.

Waylond strides forward and grabs one of the ones still awake off the ground and slams his up against the wall of the alley. “Stop following us!” He growls.

“No problem, mate!” stammers the scared thug. “We just thought you guys were an easy mark… we’re sorry!” Waylond grunts at the sorry human and tosses him down the alley.

A quick search through one of the sleeping thugs reveals he was speaking the truth… these guys are barely organized at best. “Come on… let’s head back to the inn, already… before anyone else gets any ideas.”

We make it back to the inn without any further difficulty and nod to Dimaris who is conversing with an older bearded man from the city guard, as well as a wizard in a blue velvet longcoat. When Waylond opens the door to the party room, the Arcane sitting there in tan & white waiting for us tells me that I’m still not going to get any sleep.

“I’ve heard you’re in need of my services.”

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The Whale
The Whale

Newwhal esmaller
Newwhalekey

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Katya's Journal Part 12 - Area 51
"I don't think we're on Toril anymore..."

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“Hey guys, you’ll never believe this! We sold the Greyhawk for a load of cash!” Waylond exclaims as he walks back aboard the ship and slaps his hat against his thigh in joy. “With that kind of money, we can build our own ship!”

“You sold it after you took out that magical arch though, right?”

“Of course,” the Giff scoffs as he walks off the bridge. “I’ll be in my room… I’ve got a ship to design!”

“Well if anybody’s interested, I found out something while you guys were gone,” I say with a roll of my eyes as I turn back to the computer to grab the list it gave me. "It seems that there is a list of 20 people related by “The Nexus,” which is an alliance of magic users working across the dimensions together towards heretofor unknown purposes…. and Waylond, Solon and you, Constance, are related to them."

“Maybe they’ve banded together to stop the Ilithids from some plot of conquest across the dimensions!” replies Constance.

“Only one way to find out!” exclaims Hodey as he reaches over and starts pushing buttons.

“Wait! We’re entering the sphere!” shouts Constance as she tries in vain to stop the ship from moving.

“Auto-Pilot initiated: destination Prime.”

It looks like we’re about to head into the sphere when suddenly the ship’s drive kicks in and there is a bright purple flash that causes us all to shield our eyes and me to grab my head in pain. Once it fades and the spots have cleared from my vision, I can tell that something has changed.

Well… three somethings… in the shape of ships coming towards us.

“Computer, please provide us means of communicating with the other ship.” I ask it quickly as I keep one eye on the screen.

“Hey… the stars have changed!” I hear Constance mutter as a panel lights up in front of us and what I assume must be a Magic Mouth spell activates.

“We are the 3rd Scout Draconis Fleet. Identify yourselves and transmit your ID codes.”

“Computer… please tell them that we will answer all questions as soon as we land… considering we can’t stop your programming.”

The three ships move into a flanking position as they escort us down to a planet that looks quite a lot like Torril… except not. It seems that purple light must accompany whatever portal it opens up to cross dimensions. As we get closer to land we can start to make out walled off compounds of a base of some kind.

“Make sure we don’t leave anything on the ship… just in case,” I shout out to the others. “Who knows what might happen once we get down there.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Eventually the ship comes to a complete landing and we throw our various sacks over our shoulders and make our way out into the bright sun of this alternate-Torril.

“Company!” squawks Omen as he soars above us in the bright blue sky.

I squint and can just make out eight people heading our way. From what I can tell, it’s a mix of humans, elves, and someone with the brightest red hair I’ve seen in ages. “Is that an Elan? Well this truly is an adventure of firsts, isn’t it?” I mutter to myself.

“Welcome to Area 51!” announces the pale Elan with his curly red hair. “How did you find the ship? It’s been missing for quite a while.”

“Well there was this job, you see… and this list… so… are you my cousin?” asks Waylond with a scratch of his head.

“It’s a bit of an odd story involving some Illithids,” Constance replies with a wry chuckle. “I’m sure my companions and I would be more then willing to share our tale of the strange events that brought us together and to your ship.”

“Indeed… please help yourself to food and drink, and then we shall start conducting the interviews before answering any questions I am sure you must have. There will be a formal dress dinner that you are all welcome to attend.” He waves his hand at one of the humans who steps up and nods. “He will show you to your quarters where you can clean and dress.”

“Hot water?” I can’t help but blurt out. “Show me the way.”

I spend the next hour soaking in the bath… until the image of tentacles reaching for me from the depths of the water wake me with a jolt. I quickly leap out of the tub and grab a towel, drying myself hurriedly as I rush into the bedroom. Throwing open the closet door I grab the first dress I see as my braids snag the appropriate shoes.

“Right…dinner… drink… lots of drink,” I mutter as I throw the dress on and trust my hair to take care of itself.

~

“We are honored to meet the granddaughter of Ionius the Sapphire Mage,” declares the Elan as he walks up to Constance and bows over her hand.

I look around the room as I walk down the steps to see many other humans and elves dining and taking in the breathtaking view of mountains in the distance through the windows. Ionius… not sure I’ve heard of him, but from the sounds of it he’s pretty important. Well… he must be if he’s on that list, right? I wonder how she’ll take it…

“We are also pleased to have the descendants of Prince Drax and the Caruthers clan with us,” the Elan continues as he shakes the hands of Solon and Waylond.

Prince Drax? The one who had the Greyhawk? Now things are getting even more odd with how they’re connected.

“Great deeds are ahead of us all in the near future, my friends…” he tells us as he waves us over to his table to sit. “We unfortunately can’t spend too much time here, and will have to return you to your verse.”

“Our verse?” asks Constance.

“Yes… your dimension, as it will. The Illithids and the Arcane are the only races left from the previous multi-verse. While they are a universal constant capable of moving from dimension to dimension, when people such as you accomplish such a thing, it can cause a great dimensional static.”

“Static… is that what we keep feeling when the purple flashes happen?” asks Constance.

“Yes, that is most likely. The greater the disturbances, the more pain it can cause… and sometimes it takes you completely.” the Elan answers grimly. “As such you will need proper shielding from the Farspace so you can retain your sanity as well as your lives.”

“So what about these great deeds you spoke of?” asks Solon as he sips from his glass.

“Yes… great deeds will be needed in order to retrieve the items needed to defend against the advancing darkness.”

“What items would those be?” I ask curiously as I stab at a piece of meat with my fork. Always a catch, Katya… there’s always a catch.

“The Cudgel of St. Cuthbert the Greyhawk God, and the Silver Sword of Fedefensor.” From the look of surprise from Khal, that must be a Gith thing.

“What exactly was the purpose of that ship anyway?” I ask. Oh just a god’s hammer and a mystic sword… that’s all.

“I’m afraid that is classified.”

“Of course it is,” I reply as I take a large swig from my glass. Better enjoy this now…

“And the ship will have to remain here of course. We’ll transport you to where you need to go to start your search, however.”

“Of course it will,” I mutter as I take another drink.

“We will be sure to supply you with enough money in recompense, however.”

Now we’re talking.

~

A few hours later we’re escorted back to our quarters after some additional dire warnings about Department 7, a rather sinister group on another Greyhawk.

“So what do they mean magic doesn’t work here?” Constance asks in frustration. “How do they get anything done?”

The rest wander off to their rooms as the Elan takes me by the arm. “A moment… I feel I must warn you about that book you carry. You must be careful… it can make the dimensional static effect much worse.”

“Is it because of the Illithid magic?” I whisper.

“That book is not Illithid… it’s something much darker,” the Elan warns. “A mad cultist wrote it some 300 years ago. Some things… they should remain in the dark where they belong.”

The Elan’s warning passes my ears like a summer breeze as my mind is already swirling with the possibilities. Did this cultist see some great god of the Illithid? Or is it something even more powerful from another reality that puts the machinations of the Illithid to shame? Who used the book last… what happened when they did… and how did it end up in that crystal floating in space?

… I must know more.

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Printout - Known Genetic Markers

While aboard the “shadowship” they found in the Phlogiston Katya made several attempts to gain information from the ship’s AI. Most of these requests were denied, but she was able to discover that they had not set off the ship defenses because the AI recognized some of them as genetically related to others who have been deemed allies.

This is the printout she had it produce of the list.

Baleron Silvertongue
Draax
Meng Kung Gao
Mordenkainen
Biggby
Elminster of Shadowdale
Murlynd
Xagig
Stephen Strange
John Constantine
Fell the Dabus
Estevaan
Drego Bloodflame
Neb Rentar
Landrake Ke’randyl
Shintak Taj Pach
Siddiq el Alhazred
Sandra Forbes
Fionna ap Gwydion
Tomas Hoffman
Gamalon Idogyr
Fenelyn of The Silver Void
Moswen Nathandem
Violetta Lucette D’arc
King Mob
Hezekiah Strain
Ghralnack Kurtubac

Kevoth Kul
Axel Asher
Ishmael Longstrider
Voshp’k K’rr’rr
Purity
C Sharp Minor Trill
Elric VIII
Austin Osman Spare
Sefris Si Uuthrakt

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