Planejammer: Ad Astra Per Arcana

First to Fall

The Dead Book has been opened….

R.I.P.
Solon Ruasar and Ly’Khal “Kal” Al’Tiatak

Lost to dimensional static while crossing the probability barrier. It is assumed, or at least hoped, that their end came quickly in the non Euclidean nightmare of the Far Realm

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Katya's Journal Part 11 - Ask DNA
"It's all a matter of probability."

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There’s a sudden jolt to the ship as Hodey’s tinkering about the engines seems to activate them with a burst of purple flames coming out the back end.

I grab my head as I’m overcome with a sudden sharp pain… and a vision that lasts only but a moment. Flashes of faces familiar to me from my past, yet… unfamiliar at the same time. What could it mean?

I shake my head to clear it, as we’ve no time for analysis right now. “I’m going to head to the bridge to see if we have any way of defending ourselves!”

Okay… weapons…weapons…this ship has to have weapons somewhere! I scan the console full of blinking lights and buttons in a panic as the three hammerships loom nearer.

“Crap… that’s the flag of the Crimson Pirates!” exclaims Constance before running down to try and help Hodey and Solon with the engine.

Many of the words I’m finding on the console are just too archaic for me to grasp… even if they do seem to be from a form of Common. There’s part of one, however, that I recognize: auto-pilot.

“Well, since it doesn’t have a Helm, maybe this will work!” I take a deep breath and push the blinking green button, fully prepared for the ship to suddenly start moving. What happens, however, is something I’ve never seen before. That seems to be happening a lot lately, actually.

With a whir of noise a section of the console opens up to reveal a small dais that emits a strange green light to form the illusion of a humanoid head that looks at me patiently.

“Um… hello? Could you please move the ship for us and take us to Bral?” I ask cautiously. When dealing with unknown entities, manners never hurt… unless you’re in Acheron.

“Negative: unable to comply due to current location.”

“Well Hells… how about just getting us out of here, then? We seem to be under attack!”

The ship’s systems begin to activate as lights flicker on and engines begin to hum into a building crescendo of power. A purple light akin to the fizzle from that gun we found shoots out of the front of the ship and turns one of the hammerships into rubble before taking off in a burst of speed.

“By the Gods… what just happened!” exclaims Constance as she makes her way back to the bridge.

“I think we just took off,” I reply in barely concealed excitement. The sheer power of this ship…

My dreams of grandeur are soon interrupted by the sound of straining and snapping ropes. “What’s that… oh no… The Greyhawk!” Constance runs to the window to see the boarding ropes we had left attached to the Greyhawk split one by one. “Stop the ship!”

“Please stop the ship!” I beg the floating head, and breath a sigh of relief as it slows down and elevates itself to avoid the Greyhawk as it drifts to a stop in front of us with two ropes left still attached to it.

“Where are we?” Constance asks as she looks out the window. “I don’t recognize these stars at all…”

“Can you tell us where you’re from or what happened to your crew?” I ask the floating head.

“Please enter Command ID. Command ID:Mordenchainan required for requested information.” Hmmn.

“All records of Command ID were destroyed in battle.” I reply and cross my fingers.

“Scanning… scan completed. Genetic markers in 3 of 6 accepted.”

“Do tell… which three?” I ask in curiousity.

“The human female, the half-elf male, and the Giff male have the necessary genetic markers for identification.”

“And just who are they related to? The previous owners?”

“Command ID:Mordenchainan required.”

“How do we enter the Command ID?”

“Retinal scan and thumbprint required.” replies the machine running the ship as a panel lights up on the console.

“Oh Constance…”

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

After a talk with the floating head and a discussion with the crew, we decide to keep moving forward until it’s able to identify any landmarks in the deep flow that can get us back to the main flow rivers. Waylond re-secures the Greyhawk with new tow ropes, Constance discovers the manual controls, and Hodey follows behind everyone with his new labeling device in order to help everyone with all of the controls.

“Why are we bringing that thing again?” asks Khal as we move along at a slow steady pace.

“Well we can’t exactly leave it for anybody to find… they could use the Greyhawk to track us!” I reply. “Besides… think of the money we could get for it, even if we do remove it’s special abilities first!”

“Good point…” he mutters.

“Wait a minute…” I mutter as I turn to watch Hodey at work on the console. “Temporal and Dimensional Access Controls? This thing travels through time too?” I reflexively reach up and wipe at my chin because I’m sure I must be drooling.

“Considering the other systems I discovered geared towards fighting off Illithid, I would assume that this ship also travels as they do,” offers Khal. “There’s a Dimensional Anchor to even keep them from shifting dimensions.”

“They can travel through time and dimensions?”

“Not exactly… they travel by manipulating probability. The dimensions they travel in are not like here with the planes… more like almost here, just slightly different; alternate realities.”

“That explains what I saw, then…” I mutter as a shiver runs down my spine. That also explains that book…

Hodey skitters past us with his label gun and shakes me from my fears as Constance starts arguing about where we need to stop to refresh our air supply. Greatspace seems to be the winner, since our lives are pretty expendable back on Refuge.

I sigh as I smooth out my skirt and take a seat in front of the glowing green head of the auto-pilot. “Computer… could you please take us to Greatspace?”

“Negative: Ship is programmed to return to Prime upon entering of designated Wildspace.”

“Well that’s just bloody great! Hey Constance… if we leave the flow this thing is going to take over and go home!”

“Frak! Well what are we supposed to do now?”

“Hmmn… teleportation abilities would come in might handy right now,” I mutter. “Computer… do you…”

“Negative.”

Hells. Teleportation…teleportation… “Wait a minute… what about that magical set we found with the dagger, ring and tapestry?” I exclaim with a snap of my fingers. “Hey Hodey!”

The next hour is spent with Hodey and myself going over our magical options while Waylond and the others see about prepping the Greyhawk as our landing craft just in case the items aren’t powerful enough.

I watch eagerly as Hodey runs his hands over the symbols on the tapestry and they change to reflect the front loungs of the ship, a desert terrain with a wooden village and funny cacti… and a room in a dungeon somewhere. Interesting… but I don’t know if it’s going to help us get to the planet.

I can’t help but think Wayland was more than happy to take the Greyhawk instead of using teleportation anyway.

In the meantime, I think the Computer and I are going to have some more talks…

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Heinzelmann's Journal - Entry nine

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Katya's Journal Part 10 - The Reveal
"What do you mean it doesn't use magic?"

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With supplies finally loaded and tariff’s paid, we finally leave Refuge to take off for points unknown in search of… well… the unknown. But hey, at least we’re getting paid for it, right?

What seems like weeks pass as those of us with magical talents (myself included) are taught the ways of Helms thanks to Constance. I have to remember not to snicker when she’s honestly trying to help us… it’s all Hodey’s fault for telling me those nicknames he has for her.

Speaking of Hodey… I wonder where he’s gotten off to?

“Found something! Squawk! Found something!”

I follow the distinctive call of my familiar to find the aforementioned Kobold and Solon staring up at one of the archways leading away from the bridge. Omen greets me with a ruffle of feathers and hops to my outstretched hand as I walk up behind them.

“What gives, guys?”

“Check out this writing along the arch,” replies Solon as he runs his hand along the worn Elven script. “It’s pretty old… but from what I can tell there is a charm of sorts on the boat that helps the pilot fly the ship, as well as to find…well… find something.”

“There’s a secret compartment up there! Look!” says Hodekin as he points up to where the keystone of the arch would be. Solon runs his fingers along it and after a moment there is a soft click and it opens to reveal a scroll wrapped in a green silk cord with platinum beads.

“What is it?” I ask curiously as he carefully unties the scroll and reads it.

“It seems to be a magical deed to the ship,” Solon replies with a shrug. “Apparently this ship was a gift to Prince Drax from someone named Bigby.”

“So wait a minute… this Prince Drax from Greyhawk was given a ship called Greyhawk that looks like crap but is actually specifically made to find whatever it is we’ve been sent to find over 250 years later… and we’re on the same ship.” A pain starts to form in my temple and I rub it as I groan. “Okay… I need to contemplate this mind-staggering coincidence somewhere dark and quiet.” I’m not sure why… but my head hasn’t hurt like this since those weird dreams I got reading that book.

~~~~~~~~

After a few hours nap I’m woken up by the feeling of sudden stillness about the ship. Making my way to the bridge reveals the cause of my unease: we seem to have arrived at our destination.

“What in the name of the Light is that?” exclaims Solon as he points out towards a large metallic spider-like ship slowly spinning through the flow.

“Do I need to paint a big X on it for you?” laughs Waylong as he hefts some rope over his shoulder and walks out on deck. I quickly follow after him because if he’s going over there, I want to know what’s going on.

I wave my hand over the Giff with a quick incantation as he ties the rope around himself and around the rail. “Another one of your talking spells?” he grunts.

“I thought you liked it when the voices in your head talked back,” I joke as the others make their way to the deck.

“Only when they’re pretty,” Waylond retorts as he pushes off deck and floats over to the other ship to tie the rope.

“Should he be going over there alone?” asks Solon.

“I think he’s just tying off a rope so we can all go over,” I reply.

“Wait… he’s tying us to a spinning ship?” asks Solon, eyes widening in fear as he suddenly runs over to the deck and pulls out a dagger to try and cut the rope.

“Shit!” I hear Waylond mutter via my spell just seconds before the ship lurches from the rope wrapping around the other ship. Fortunately Solon was already holding on to the rail, and with a quick grab from my braids I was able to support Hodey and myself.

“There we go!” Solon cheers in relief as his dagger finally cuts the rope loose from the railing.

“Sorry about that, guys… is everyone ok?” Waylond asks sheepishly after landing back on the deck. “There’s an entrance to the ship, but for the life of me I can’t get the blasted thing open!”

“Why don’t you take Hodekin and Solon back to the ship and see if they can get it open?” I suggest. “I’ll stay here so we can communicate, in case anything goes wrong. At least until you get the thing open, anyway,” I wink at Hodey, who snickers in reply. If there’s new magic to be found in that ship… you can bet I’ll want to check it out. Until then… I’m more than happy to leave the locked doors to the professionals.

After much cursing and bashing with large objects, the door is eventually given up on because of a decided lack of handles, latches, or power. By the 9 Hells… how did these people do anything, anyway? Strange tech or not, fortunately for us windows are still breakable wherever this ship is from. Waylond succeeds in shattering one of the opaque glass windows with his battle axe and I make my way over, leaving Khal to pilot the Greyhawk.

Eventually I find the others scratching their heads in confusion over what I assume is the Helm room of the ship.

“I sat at the helm, but nothing happened!” pouts Constance. “Maybe the Captain had a manual for it?”

“Broke piece of junk!” grumbles Hodey as he kicks a console. “None of this stuff is powered by magic.”

“You know, I’ll bet that weird gun came from here,” I mutter to myself as I look around. “Hey Hodey… why don’t you and Solon search the Captain’s quarters for anything interesting while Constance and I look around some of the crates here?”

Fortunately when it comes to ransacking, you don’t have to tell the Kobold twice that there’s some to be done.

“So… let’s see what we’ve got here,” I grunt as I pry open one of the crates with my dagger to reveal case upon case of dusty bottles. “You’ve got to be kidding me…” I grab one of the bottles and wipe it off to reveal a label that says Old Troll’s Piss. “Alien technology… and they use it to run alcohol?”

“Sirian Panther Sweat,” Constance reads with a grimace as she pulls out another bottle. “Never had it, but it sounds gross.”

“All depends… what’s a panther?” I chuckle as Hodey and Solon come back into the room with some papers in hand. “Find anything?”

“These seem to be invoices for those crates,” Solon replies as he scans one of them. “Apparently they were to be delivered to Archmage Gamelon Idelgear, as well as a place called The Laughing Beholder.” He hands a small book over to Constance. “There was also this ship’s log if you want to look at it.”

“So let’s deliver it and get the money!” suggests Hodey as he rubs his hands together.

“First things first, we need to get this thing working,” Constance reminds us as she starts flipping through the book. “The Dragon Empire… I wonder where that is?” she mutters to herself as she sits back in the Captain’s chair.

“Come on, I’ll keep you company while you work your magic on the engines,” I grin at Hodekin.

~~

CLANG! BANG!

“So… what you’re saying then, is that this ship has a non-magical way to open portals?” I ask Hodekin incredulously. From what I can tell from my studies it takes powerful magics to open portals to other dimensions… how in the Abyss could they have done it?

“And The Greyhawk has the ability to detect those portals,” Hodey replies before sticking his head into an engine compartment.

“Just think of it, Hodey… the power one could hold… let alone the money one could make with something like this! Not to mention the potential for mass destruction on a universal scale… but that’s neither here nor there. No wonder everybody wants this thing!”

Suddenly there is a warning bellow from Waylond. “Company’s coming!” Hodey grunts and gives me an evil glare.

“Hey, don’t look at me like that… it’s not like I summoned them! You just work on getting this blasted thing working or we’re all sitting ducks here!”

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Heinzelmann's Journal - Entry Eight

Grey Hawk Captains Log: Entry Eight, Captain Heinzelmann Hödekin

I believe our first order of business should be to find the chant on some backsphere kobold tribes. Uncle Urdrich will say i am addle-coved if i did not at least try and “spread a little Gold!” as he says. And we could use a crew, especially a gad of cony primer apple chasing kobolds that would treat me as a high up blood. Uncle Urdrich said he once came upon a bally gad of prime reds, who thought he was Kurtulmak himself. He said he did not stop until every female in the tribe oiled his belly, and then did it again! Peeled all the jink from their milk bags too!
Chanting of jink, i am a spiv now that i’m a Captain, so been making the rough to sell, basic clockwerk timers, toys, and props. There really is a lot of wasted time on these jammers, i could use a few mates to ease my ride. Katya is blood, but the rest of my crew are bubbed till the pitchers empty! Their bub-bawling fills the Grey Hawk with so much barkle and barrikin a kobold could’nt mine salt!
We want to catch a skeg at what that cross trading cony catcher asked us to ride for, see if its a load of jink or tief. I am not expecting much, since my crew got NOTHING to secure a deal.. Next time i will do the chanting. And we rig to sell whatever milk we get to the highest bidder! No one going to shed that we don’t got worms in our brain box and take us for berks!

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Katya's Journal Part 9 - Ancient Conspiracies
What did we get ourselves mixed up in?

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“I say we go out there, and if we manage to survive we re-negotiate our contract. At the very least, we should sell our information to the highest bidder and then give Harliss back the 1,000 gold,” I argue with Solon and Constance as we head back to the docks to see how it’s going with the ship.

“In a place like Refuge what with all the business dealings of the Arcane, all contracts are law,” Constance warns.

“The Arcane…” I scoff. “Let me tell you… there are things they’ve done that a lot of people just don’t know about. I’m pretty fluent in Legaleeze… and I’ve got to tell you: contracts are made to be broken.”

Constance looks like she’s about to continue her side of things when instead she points ahead to a curious man with a clipboard checking out our ship and talking to Waylond and Hodekin. “Oh no… the government is here already.”

I’m too amused with the captain’s hat that Hodekin is now wearing to even comment as Constance puts on her best grin and tries to convince the government official to let us have the ship. Instead, I sidle behind him and begin a little enchantment charm that I learned from mother… and wince when I realize that I’ve still got some practicing to do when it comes to charming humans.

“We’ve got to pay how much in fees?” Waylond bellows to the man with the clipboard.

“Over 600 gold in taxes and permits that you failed to pay when you landed on Refuge.”

“What about that bag of crystal fragments?” Solon asks as Waylond removes the bag from his belt and sets it down for examination. “Have you tried getting them appraised yet?”

“You know, I think this stuff is Glassteel,” Constance replies as she looks over the shards. “We shouldn’t be hasty in selling these.”

“Well… how about my father’s medals from the EIN, then? I would be willing to pawn them if it would help…” offers Solon.

“It wouldn’t,” replies the man dryly.

“Oh for the love of…” I roll my eyes and dig into one of the pouches at my belt. I didn’t want to have to do this, but this is getting us nowhere… “Look, here’s two hundred gold up front as a downpayment. You give us a receipt and let us take the ship, and then we can conduct our business in order to have more money to pay the rest of our fees. How does that sound?”

“Now that could be arranged.”

“Wait… if you’re willing to pay that, then…” Constance quickly goes to the others and whispers adamantly until they each hand over their share of the money. I’m starting to think that this woman could argue a Demon until he’s ready to surrender. “Here we go… here’s the rest of it! Now can we have our ship?”

“Thank you, just give me a moment and I will fill out the proper paperwork for you to sign.”

“Captain Hodekin and First Mate Katya!” cheers the Kobold.

“Now that we have a ship again, we need to make sure we’ve got supplies,” says Waylond. “We never really took a good look through this thing… how about we look around for loose change and things to sell, then go do some shopping?”

“Anything ever come from selling that armor?” Constance asks.

“Nah… turns out that Helm-Ho guy only turns up when weird business dealings are taking place, and as soon as he doesn’t inhabit the armor it just kind of goes poof after awhile.”

“Well come on, let’s see what we can find on ship before Hodey gets to it all,” I say as I head up the gangplank with a wave of my hand.

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

Between Hodekin and Solon the ship is searched from aft to fore, and we manage to come up with a few interesting things that we pile on deck to sift through other than the small chest of 50 platinum that we use to cover our losses for the ship fees.

Secret bookcases and hidden scroll tubes reveal some useful starcharts, reports from these Seekers that Constance likes to talk about, and some entertaining reading for those long trips between Spheres. The Selected Songs of the Misfits might be a pass for me since singing was never my forte… but The Legend of the Nomad makes me do a double-take. Wasn’t that the name of the ship we saw leaving dock? I wonder…

The truly interesting things come last as we unroll a colorful tapestry with a dagger and a ring with matching bloodstone jewels. A quick incantation reveals that there is conjuration and teleportation magics involved with these items that are somehow bonded together. Perhaps you have to use all three in a ritual? I will have to study these later. Let Hodey and Solon argue the worth of the tapestry… we’re not selling it until I figure out its powers.

“So what’s that big thing you’ve got over there?” asks Waylond in feined innocence as he spies a glint of light off of the strange metal device we found.

“Don’t show it to him!” whispers Constance fervently. Oh… now this I have to see.

“What… you mean this big shiny thing?” I ask with a smile as I turn around and hand it to Waylond, whose pupils expand at the sight of it. I nod to him and he reaches out with a shaking hand to take it in his arms and cradle it gently.

“I’ve got you now, sweet thing… let’s see what you can do!” he whispers to it fondly before turning around and promptly squeezing the trigger to shoot in down into the water. I run to the rail with a gasp of excitement, but it soon toons into a sigh of disappointment as nothing comes out but a fizzling purple light.

“Damn… is that it?” I mutter.

“Hey, what are these letters that fell out of the tapestry?” Solon asks curiously as he picks up three wax-sealed letters.

“Hmmn… let me see,” I ask as he hands them over. “These look very old… how about I stay here on the ship and check them out while you all do the necessary shopping we need for our mission?”

“I’ll stay too, since I need to go over those charts,” offers Constance. “Just don’t sell anything we found on the ship, ok? We don’t need to leave a trail of blood money.”

Hodekin sighs at Constance’s suggestion. “Fine… is there anything you want, Katya?”

“I could use some alchemical supplies for my potion making, but other than that I’m good. Thanks, Hodey!” And with that, Waylond, Hodekin and Solon go roam the shopping district while I look for a teapot so I can steam these letters open.

~~~~

Hmmn… what’s this? While I can’t read all of it due to the ancient and odd languages Its in, I’m able to make out some bits and pieces of information. There are four letters total:

*The first letter talks of a Baron Geordi in the Hold of the Sea Princes of Greyhawk, from someone named Drax to his father. This one is in an Elvish/Common tongue and not too difficult to read.

*This one is a letter to Drax regarding “moving elements into position,” spheres and planes, and someone named Mordenchinan. This letter is in Draconic.

*This letter regards moving groups in a grand chess game and a Reigar named Tain. This is also in Draconic

*The last letter is similar in nature, but concerns “an old friend weakened,” “darker path of heritage,” and “agree with wife we have to put Belaron down.” This one seems to be in Suel… so it’s a bit difficult for me to read.

After going through them all, I quickly take pen to parchment and make copies of all of the information before carefully resealing them the best I can. No need on getting these things damaged or taken, in case they turn out to be important. What am I saying… information is always important… I just need to figure out to whom.

I head back to the docks to find Constance greeting the others upon their return. “Any luck?” she asks hopefully.

“We should have enough supplies for this one,” Waylond answers cheerfully as he lugs sacks of rations up the gangplank.

“Hey Katya, I forgot about these two other things I found…” Hodekin says as he hands over two parchments to me.

“Hey Constance… isn’t this like the map that Harliss showed us?” I ask as I hand over one of the parchments to her.

“Looks like it to me! I don’t know about some of these markings around the edges, though. I’ll add these with the other charts.” she then carefully rolls up the map and follows Waylond up the gangplank.

“What about the other one?” asks Hodey.

“Kind of hard to make out, unfortunately… other than it mentioning a place called ‘Earth’ like five different times,” I reply with a scratch of my head. “Strange thing… they keep talking about the same place, but it’s spelled differently each time.”

I look up to ask Hodekin if he’s ever heard of the place when a Halfling comes running up behind him out of the crowd and ‘bumps’ into him.

“Hey! Stop that berk!” Hodey yells as he pats down his pouches. Unfortunately, as I turn to scan the crowd it looks like he’s already disappeared.

“Damn… what did he take?”

“Um…well… it looks like the fraking berk left something,” Hodey mutters.

“What kind of rogue does a run-by giving?” Solon asks incredulously.

“The kind who want to give you something bad, I imagine.” I reply as I hold out my hand to Hodey. “Can I see what he gave you?”

He drops a small stone into my hand, and after a quick incantation of detection I am able to see the inscribed sigil of someone named Stregaaz. I don’t recognize the name… but it’s definitely old magic.

“It’s just a stone with an arcane mark enscribed on it. While generally harmless, they can be used as a foci by wizards and the like. I would probably get rid of it.”

“What’s the best way to get rid of it, you think?” asks Solon.

I give a whistle to Omen, who swoops down out of the sky to land on my outstretched arm. “Why don’t you go give this pretty stone to the pretty Elves over there, Omen?” I ask it as I point to an Elven Man O’ War from the Syndiath line nearby.

“Pretty for pretties!” Omen squawks as he grabs the stone and takes off to drop it onto their deck before coming to a landing nearby.

“You are such a good bird!” I coo as I stroke his feathers. “Let’s get back onboard and see what I can find you for lunch.”

“Mmmm…lunch!” replies Hodekin with a lick of his fangs. “I wonder if Constant has captured any birds lately?”

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Katya's Journal Part 8 - The Job
Rule #1 - Everybody's Expendable

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Eventually I’m able to drag the unconscious Gith cleric outside the bar along with Constance to check on him away from the fight. I couldn’t see much of what was going on as I made my way out of there, but from the sounds of it things were going downhill quickly.

“Looks like he’s going to be okay… he was just knocked unconscious by that Mind Flayer attack,” Constance informs me as she kneels over the sleeping cleric. “Maybe we should slip around back and see if we can help the others?”

CRASH! BANG! GROWL!

Growl? By the Gods, what are they doing in there now?

“I don’t know if I’d go back in there,” I chuckle with a shake of my head at the sounds within. “It sounds pretty insane in there. The others can handle themselves, I’m sure.”

The ring of the city watch bells begin to sound as Hodekin runs out of the bar. “Shit, it’s the law!”

“Come on, help me with the cleric here,” I reply as I put his arm around my shoulder and Constance hurries over to get his other side. “Keep your heads down, and try and act like we’re helping our drunk friend get home,” I mutter quietly as we lower our heads and do our best to stagger down the road. “You, just try and stay out of sight,” I whisper to the Kobold.

“Do you think Waylond and Solon will be ok?” Constance whispers worriedly.

“They’ll be fine… now stagger!” I whisper back as I spy the City Guard making their away around the block towards the bar. I hold my breath as Constance answers some quick questions from one of the guards who stopped to look at Hodekin, and gesture to Constance that we should stagger into an alleyway up ahead once they pass so we can keep an eye on the bar.

We set the still sleeping Khal on the ground for Hodekin to tend to and watch the entrance of the bar intently as the Giff comes stumbling out with his arm around a very inebriated elf. “See? Told you they’d be fine,” I tell Constance. “They might not like themselves in the morning, but they’re no worse for wear.”

GAH! Where am I? What in the name of Gith did that Kobold stick in my mouth while I was out?”

Ah… looks like Khal is going to be okay thanks to Hodey’s healing machine. At least… I hope that’s what it was…

Once Waylond settles his beer tab with the authorities, I cast an incantation that enables me to whisper to Waylond that they’re to join us in the alleyway so we can decide on where to go next. Personally, I think an Inn would be a good idea, all things considered. Waylond may be used to his alcohol, but I think Khal and Solon could probablly use a good night’s rest. I turn to ask Hodekin his opinion, but I see that his attention has been drawn elsewhere as he peers out of the alleyway and down the street.

“What’s going on?”

“Mind Flayers and Arcane talking means bad business for the rest of us,” he warns as he points down the street to one of those tall blue ship-building creatures talking rather animatedly with a Mind Flayer on the next corner.

“Can you hear anything?” I ask curiously. This can’t be good.

“Berks using silence spells,” he grunts with a shake of his head.

“Yeah, the Arcane don’t like business interruptions,” a new voice says behind us. I turn quickly to find a figure decked in armor from head to toe suddenly in our midst. He must have appeared magically… because there’s no way someone in that much armor could be that quiet.

“<hic> Hey wow… suit’s empty!” laughs Solon in a drunken haze as he peers into the helmet. “By the Light… how dya do dat?” He sticks his hand thorough the visor of the helmet and wiggles his fingers around as he giggles… and then moans in disappointment as whatever was inhabiting the armor seems to have disappeared at the intrustion, the armor falling to the ground in a noisy pile.

“Well damn…” mutters Waylond as Hodekin gathers up the pieces and ties them together. “Do you suppose he’s worth something if he’s broken? Maybe we should take him to a shop and see.”

“I’m all for going back to the ship,” mutters Khal as he finally gets back to his feet.

I’m about to add my opinion when a dark skinned boy runs out of the bar and across the street to us. “I’ve been told to pass on the message that Harliss wants to see you!” he says quickly before taking a deep breath and running down the street to disappear into the darkness.

“Well, it looks like we might have a job then!” I say cheerfully, but any responses are soon halted by the appearance of some rather familiar gully dwarves being marched down the street in chains by the local authorities.

“That is… if we still have a ship.”

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

Eventually it’s agreed that Waylond and Hodekin will take the woozy Khal back to the ship while Constance, Solon and I go to talk to Harliss. I wasn’t sure about the elf… but I guess he’s got a stronger constitution than I thought.

“We were summoned?” I ask the balding man in the booth as I scoot over to make room for the others.

“These are your friends, I take it?” He replies, not even looking up from a stack of papers in his lap. “Got any skills? Got a ship?”

“Yeeeessss… we’ve got a ship. As to the skills, Constance is a capable pilot and spellcaster, and Solon has the ever-so handy not-so-legal skillset.”

“All have to start somewhere, I guess,” he snorts in derision as he tosses a map across the table to Constance. “This is a recon mission. Go there, look around, tell me what you find.”

“It looks like this place is out in the middle of nowhere in the flow between Refuge and Realmspace. Any idea what we’re going to be looking for?” asks Constance as she scans the map.

“The 1,000 gold includes no questions asked,” Harliss replies.

“What… each?” I ask half-jokingly.

“Who do you think you are… Kaolin the Explorer?” he scoffs before taking a drink of ale.

“Who?”

“Feh… Groundlings … look, I suggest you go lay claim to your ship and get a move on if you want to get anywhere around here.” he finishes as he slaps a few coins on the table and gets up to leave.

“What do you think is out there?” whispers Constance as she scans the map again for any clues.

“Something that’s worth a hell of a lot more than 1,000 gold pieces and incredibly dangerous to boot.” I reply.

“What makes you say that?”

“I’ve seen enough business dealings in my time to know when I’m being played. Why else would he send a bunch of nobodies like us? Rule #1, Constance… everyone’s expendable.

“And what’s rule #2?” Solon asks as we walk out of the bar and back to the docks.

“It’s always a trap.”

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Heinzelmann's Journal - Entry Seven

Grey Hawk Captains Log: Entry Seven, Captain Heinzelmann Hodekin

I am the Captain of the Jammer Grey Hawk now! My uncles said i wad destined to be high up. I can’t wait to get the Grey Hawk back to the anthill, they are going to shed right there! A good thing to. We got to Refuge, and the burg had to many sodden elves. We went to a bar with only metal cups, some unhendest bubber tried to put me in the dead-book! I was about to cut his knees out, bob his jink, when Constantly the bully basher attacks me! ME! Always remember that most of the big fleshy leatherheads only know violence, and always use it against blokes smaller than them. Wheyland, the poor basher, cannot see what a prod she is. Then a group of elven pinchers start a brawl, and i almost get trolly-womped by flying berks. Would have been in boxes and pieces if we dxid’nt give em the laugh. This is where it gets real barmy. We see the Grey Hawk crew being touted away, so i decide to claim the ship as ours. At the same time, some other berk slipped us a note that he had a game of chess for us to get some gelt, which i needed if we were getting back on the Jammer. We had to pay the music to a skinner for the Grey Hawk, and took this oppertunity to get even with Constant and Wheyland, changing my clothing into a ships captains, and marching off without spilling a drop of milk, right onto my ship! Gave those berks the laugh! We then searched the ship and found several hidden stashes where only a biter can get to. I was able to obtain a sizeable amount of materials for my research, and the travel on these jammers is full of wasted time. Constant is swooned by my captainhood, and now oils me regularly and offers me gifts. She sees i am a Golden rorty rustler, but does not realize that i can be with none but the best of my own kind. She plays Weylen as a cony, poor leatherhead. I will have to break it to him gently so he does not go ful barmy.

CAPTAIN HEINZELMANN HODEKIN
FEAR THE GOLD!

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Heinzelmann's Journal - Entry Six

Entry Six

We entered a Sphere finally. I don’t think there are any more rats. or those little brown-green ten legged things. I was really developing a taste for them… I was looking forward to seeing some civilized bubbers again, when, sod the rule of three, Jammers full of uptight basher elves treats us like a bunch of berks while they try and show off. I kept a good eye on the elf thats been traveling with us, in case he turned stag. We are going to a place called Refuge. Our hope is to find a Portal from there to Sigil.
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Heinzelmann's Journal - Entry Five

Entry Five

“Good friends are reliable, close family members stand by your
side, and a well-chosen mate might die to protect you, but only
a kobold tribe serves without fail.”
—Vignarthurkear, a blue dragon

The Ascension of Kurtulmak

When Io gave the secret of creation to the true dragons, the first dragon to put that ritual into practice was Caesinsjach, a green dragon. The first kobold to take form out of her blood was Kurtulmak. From the beginning, Kurtulmak was much larger than any of his kin. For this reason, Caesinsjach always commanded her kobolds through Kurtulmak. As a result, the towering kobold naturally ascended to a position of leadership. When Caesinsjach told the kobolds to mine for precious metals, Kurtulmak invented a pickaxe. When Caesinsjach told the kobolds to tile her lair with gold, Kurtulmak minted the first draconic coin. When Caesinsjach told the kobolds to mine precious stones, Kurtulmak taught himself sorcery and learned how to divine where minerals were located. When Caesinsjach’s lair was finally completed, laden with platinum, filled with gold, and gleaming with gemstones, she had become the wealthiest true dragon in creation. Without further need for mortal servants, she released the kobolds from their duties to embrace their own destiny.
In emulation of his former mistress, Kurtulmak immediately began mining a lair of his own. Although he never asked for any help in this endeavor, he nonetheless received it, assisted by every kobold he had worked beside for the past several decades. Kurtulmak found a spot in the ground where a near limitless supply of metal ore and precious stones were waiting to be mined. Once properly unearthed, a discovery of this size could sustain kobolds for millennia and serve as the foundation for their society. With Kurtulmak commanding the operation, it quickly became the most structurally sound and resourcefully designed mine the world had ever seen. Kurtulmak called it Darastrixhurthi, a fortress fit for dragons. Nothing rivaled it.
Garl Glittergold was not pleased. He looked upon Darastrixhurthi and beheld the marvel Kurtulmak and his followers had created, surpassing any achievement his own people had mastered in the same time. While gnomes were playinguseless games, kobolds had been busy working and were now fit to emerge as one of the dominant races in creation. And so, with a casual wave of his hand, Garl collapsed Kurtulmak’s
mine, crushing all the kobolds inside.
The gods were appalled and demanded an explanation from Garl, who could only sputter out that his actions were intended as a joke, as if that could somehow excuse the heartless massacre he had committed. Garl had acted out of spite and, even more degrading for the gnome god, jealousy over mortal accomplishment. And yet, regardless of all the berating Garl received from his equals, not one deity
came forward to reverse the damage done, leaving the crime unpunished. Then Io moved on behalf of Kurtulmak.
Once the Ninefold Dragon realized that no god would champion the kobolds, he searched through the souls
of those who died that day until he found Kurtulmak’s broken body, still clinging to life. Even buried under so
much rock, Kurtulmak wouldn’t give up on his people, refusing to let go of his mortal form until he could find the strength to dig them all out. Io gave Kurtulmak a choice. He would either empower Kurtulmak with the strength to rebuild the mine, or he would make the mighty kobold a champion of his people for all eternity. In this latter case, the loss of Darastrixhurthi would remain, but the memory of what happened would endure in the minds of kobolds forever, ensuring that atrocities of this magnitude would never be overlooked again.

—Tales told in the Hatchery
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