Planejammer: Ad Astra Per Arcana

Katya's Journal Part 23 - The world's a stage
...and we are merely players.

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The Clerks Ward is relatively quiet on a typical drizzly afternoon. We head to the Civic Fest Hall for a relatively safe haven (according to Hodey) and come face to face with Hodey once again… but this time with a pair of Kobold girls on each arm and tickets for a bardic performance tonight.

“Ildrun Velvet-tongue? Fantastic!” exclaims Garan as he looks at the tickets. “I’ve been hearing about him for a few years now, but never got to see him. We’ve just got to go, cousin!”

“We’ll talk about it…” I mumble as I look around the crowd nervously. Thankfully here in Sigil just about anyone can fit in, as tieflings, fiends, celestials and aasimar are plentiful in this part of town.

“Hey, there’s the Portaljammer Bar. Isn’t that cool…. it’s made out of a hammership! Let’s go there!” exclaims Constance happily.

“There really isn’t much else we can do but wait,” Garan agrees. I’ve already started the process of paperwork needed to set up a meeting with Esteban…"

“…and we can’t exactly just walk right up to the Rule of Three either,” I finish with a resigned sigh. “Fine… let’s go get some drinks and we’ll go to this show tonight.” Constance and Garan cheer as they walk ahead and I continue to scan the crowd. “Maybe if we’re lucky our presence will bring some of these people out of the woodwork and we can find out what’s really going on,” I mutter to myself.

“Hey, the Green Briar is across the street… they say that you can get divine cider made by the goddess of the Halfings there!” says Hodey as he points to a quaint looking bar nearby.

“Have you noticed the size of the door?” asks Wayland. “I think you’re the only one who can get drinks there.”

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

Eventually it is agreed that Constance, Wayland and I will get drinks at the Portaljammer Bar where we can all get in without stooping, while Kargat tries to get some contract work done and Hodey conducts some business for crafting supplies. Bars aren’t just great places for drinks, though… they’re quite useful for information too. While Constance and the others are in their cups, I mill about the bar until I find a suitable target who might be more than willing to spill any information they know if they’re “nudged” hard enough. I may not be big like Wayland… but I know how to put the fear into someone.

Thankfully my task is made easier by the appearance of a fallen half-elf paladin from a backwater Prime world drinking away his sorrows in a corner. Those religious types… it doesn’t take much to push them even farther over the edge… and after a little cajoling I’m able to learn that he recently hired some arsonists from a group of mephits to burn down our ship… all because his mysterious boss wanted to kill off a descendent of some obscure human sorcerer.

Wait… the Rule of Three is the one who hired that mephit… which means that he wants to kill Constance because she’s related to the Sapphire Mage? Why? And why is he not the only group wanting this meeting to never happen? First the Harmonium cops… and now this!

As I’m pondering the situation I can’t help but get the feeling that I’m being watched… and my paranoia pays off as I catch a glimpse of a githzyrai in monk clothing observing me directly in the crowd before he disappears. Oh, this is not good… not good at all.

Eventually we all meet up again for dinner at the Fountain Bar in the Lady’s Ward for seafood. A small cloaked figure comes up to Hodey while we’re waiting for our waitress and whispers into his ear.

“Well? What gives?” asks Wayland.

“My new friend there told me that someone is out for my friends.” Hodey reveals.

“Tell you what, Constance…” I fiddle with the Chameleon Ring on my finger and pull it off with a sigh. “Seeing as my appearance is accepted here… and yours is quickly becoming persona non grata… how about you where this and disguise yourself while you’re here?”

Constance’s face lights up as she holds her hand out for the ring. “That’s very kind of you, thank you!”

“Of course… you won’t mind signing a lease contract, right? I have to protect my investment… you understand.”

Hodey giggles into his glass and Wayland’s eyes visibly glaze over at the thought of be talking about legal matters again. Constance huffs for a moment, but reluctantly agrees and I hand over the ring. “That’s only visual, now… if someone bumps up against you they’ll be able to tell that it’s an illusion.”

“I don’t like this place,” mutters Hodey. “We need to go somewhere where they serve Koblods just like they do everyone else.”

“Just so long as we don’t have to stoop to get in and sit on tiny chairs,” jokes Wayland.

We finish our meal and head over to The Sullied Angel for after-dinner drinks, and I leave Omen on a perch outside the door to watch for trouble. That… and I don’t need a crowd of hungry Kobolds leaping about the place because of a “black chicken.” While the drinks are reminiscent of Troll’s Piss on a good day, I’m rather impressed with their array of hot sauces. I end up buying one just for Tielfings… apparently it’s made with Gehennan Rot Peppers and would cause someone without our usual resistances some serious internal issues. We partake of venison from the beastlands and actual angel food cake before stumbling back out into the damp night air.

“3rd floor! Stranger watches!” caws Omen as he flies up to a 3rd floor balcony across the street.

“Come on, guys… let’s check it out!” I say as I whip out my wand and activate a Mage Armor spell.

“But… the show! We’ll miss our seats!” whines Hodey and Kargat together.

There’s a sharp pain in my chest as I feel the pain of my familiar suddenly being struck down. “SEE! SEE!” I hiss at them all angrily, my hair whipping about me. “This is all your fault!” I take off into the air and catch my beloved raven before he drops to the ground… cooing to the injured bird as I cradle him in my arm.

Hodey whips out his “Healing Ray” and covers Omen in an oily concoction that while healing him, doesn’t do much to help him fly at the moment. Note to self… make sure they use stain remover on blouse when the staff of the Bubber Saint does laundry tomorrow.

“Who hurt you, my sweet?” I ask it gently.

“Elf woman… hurt bad…” it moans before tucking its head under a wing.

I tuck him securly behind me with my braids and grab Hodey by the collar before flying up towards the 3rd floor, while Wayland and Constance head for the stairs. A splatter of webbing comes shooting down from above that I barely dodge, quickly followed by a blast of lightning that crackles through the air and strikes Kargat and singes Hodey as he activates his Haste Machine.

I make it up to the 3rd floor balcony, but can’t make out the location of the elf woman that hurt my Omen. All I can see is a blur of movement out of the corner of my eye when suddenly a ray of fire shoots out past me setting a baker’s stand on fire across the street while another one hits Wayland in the chest. Thankfully his natural resistances should help… as I’m more interested in causing this creature lasting pain than healing anyone right now. My braid quickly lashes out at the location where the blast came from and I can feel the satisfaction of a thud as I hit paydirt. Constance soon follows suit with a spell and the blur curses as it drops something from its burning hands.

Wayland’s muscles bulge as Kargat’s spell kicks in, but I’m not about to give him the satisfaction as I pull out my favorite spell component and let loose a lightning bolt of my own that causes the blur to scream as it drops to its knees in pain. When the whisps of smoke and the blur fades we’re left with a female elf sporting Harmonium colors looking at me rather… oddly with a dreamy smile on her face.

“You’re so beautiful …I think I love you…”

“What the…” my wonderings at the oddities of magic are cut short, however, as the sky bursts open with a freezing drizzle of sleet and hail that pelts at us all. “The Hell is going on?” I shout angrilly as Omen squawks, “Necklace!” before burrowing deeper under my cloak.

“Please…if you love me…” I beg the elf woman loudly as I huddle under my cloak, “would you please stop ths spell?”

“What? Oh… of course, my love…” the elf woman mumbles happily as she removes the necklace and throws it to the ground.

“Thank you,” I sigh as the storm disappears. “Now… why in the hells did you attack us?” I have no idea why my magic decided to charm this woman… but I am not one to look a gift elf in the mouth.

“My faction ordered me to keep an eye on the girl…” Again with Constance! Seriously… we need to have a talk with that girl. I’m about to ask her more questions when the elf’s smile starts to fade and she shakes her head violently.

“Uh-oh… I think our time’s up,” Constance warns as she touches the elf woman on the shoulder and removes her from the time stream for a few seconds. I position myself so that when she reappears I’m able to restrain her with my braids long enough for Wayland to carve through her reinforced armor like a hot knife through butter.

“Crap… it’s the Sons of Mercy!” Hodey warns as he hears a ruckus below and looks over the balcony. “Time to get out of there…”

“I’m not about to miss this show now,” replies Constance as she pulls out her Wayfinder and motions for everyone to gather close. Hodey and I make sure not to leave any traces on the elf woman first, of course… and then Constance activates her device and transports us to the Ethereal Plane.

“A little busier than I’d like,” says Constance as she looks around at others with the similar idea of escaping the crowds through an alternate plane, “but it will do in a pinch. Now come on, let’s go!”

The Treasure from the Harmonium Elf:

  • Potion of Cure Serious Wounds (Wayland)
  • Wand of False Life (Kargat)
  • +2 Darkwood Armor Shirt (aka chainmail AC) (Connie)
  • +1 Elven Curve Blade (Connie)
  • Cloak of Resistance +1 (Kargat)
  • Ring of Counter Spells – bonded item aka item familiar – Spell in there currently is Dispel Magic (me)
  • Pouch of Holding (Hodey)
  • inside is a slender book covered in dragon hide – spell book. (me)
    SPELLBOOK: Alarm, DISPEL MAGIC, HOLD PERSON , Invisibility, LEVITATE, True Strike, and Scorching Ray.
  • Amulet – held contingency effect if wearer suffered any sort of mental effect or enchantment.

~~~~~

We eventually make it to our seats and don’t switch back to our normal state until we get there; much easier than stepping on toes and tails along the way.

“I still say I should be keeping an eye on things from the rafters,” I whisper. “I mean look what happened outside!”

“Sssh! Watching the show!” Hodey hisses back.

I roll my eyes and stick out my tongue at the Kobold and almost bite it as I notice that githzyrai again. Crap! I try to nudge Hodey and point him out, but he just hushes me and points to the stage.

The show is rather long, but eventually the lights come up again and we walk through the crowds to exit the theatre.

“Hey… did you guys see that githzyrai arguing with a one-horned goat centaur? And here I thought I’d seen everything…” Kargat jokes.

That’s the githzyrai I was trying to point out to you, Hodey! I think that was the Rule of Three!”

“And I would’ve listened to you if you wouldn’t have tried to talk to me during the play,” he replies.

“Well I guess you weren’t paying attention either, because it was a musical performance, not a play,” I laugh.

“Either way, I think we should head back to the ship,” says Constance. “It’s been a long day.”

Nods and groans of agreement lead to us making our way back to the Clerk’s Ward and the bar that is now closed. “Thankfully there are ways around that,” Connie jokes as she activates her Wayfinder again and we walk into the bar through the Ethereal Plane.

“Get me… I’m the Giff who walks through walls!” Wayland chuckles.

Constance slaps some coins on the counter and grabs a bottle from behind the bar. “While we’re here… I could use a drink.”

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

Eventually we make it back through the streets of Waterdeep to our ship. By the time we do, however, most of the bottle Constance picked up has been emptied by the rest of the group… and their drunken behavior soon focuses on our hapless new cook as Constance decides everyone should have pancakes.

I just have to shake my head and laugh as they all come rushing out of the poor gnome’s bedroom as he screams. “What are you doing in my room? Get out or I’ll quit!”

“Seriously… you guys need to sleep it off. Constance, I took the liberty of casting some wards around your room and keyed it to everyone but you and Wayland for your safety.”

Constance smiles and nods in appreciation as Wayland does his best to hide his blush. “I’ll camp outside your door just to be safe, Connie.”

Everyone sleeps safely through the night and all seems well as we make our way to the galley for breakfast… only to find that our cook has been waiting for us.

“HERE’S YOUR BLASTED PANCAKES!”

Suddenly we’re forced to dodge as fluffy frisbees of food coated in syrup come flying through the air at us. Connie gets smacked upside the face with one that she eats cheerfully and by the time he’s done everyone is laughing and feeling very sticky when he stomps off cursing under his breath.

“Hodey…” I mutter as I look around to find at least…1..2..13…14… 17 different Kobolds scrambling to pick up pancakes off the floor. “Just how many of these are your kids?” I reach into my pack and pull out a spray bottle that I promptly use to make them scatter… leaving little sticky footprints in their wake.

Eventually we’re all cleaned up and sobered up after our adventures from the night before and head back to Sigil for some more investigating. At least I’m investigating anyway… I think Hodey is on a quest to try and sell some of his contraptions and Constance has gone off to find some of that divine ale form the Green Briar Inn. I eventually come across a drunken githyanki who is kind enough to let me know a rather important tidbit of information: when the Rule of Three is in Sigil (which is where he’s been for the past decade, he likes to assume the form of an unassuming Githzari. I also discovered that the Harmonium, along with the other factions, were exiled from Sigil two years ago. If they came here they came from Arcadia… and it must have been with a purpose if they were willing to go up against the Lady of Pain’s ruling.

Once I make it back to the ship I head to the bar to reveal the news about the Rule of Three… when I meet someone most unexpected there instead. He’s just under 6ft tall with short spiked brown hair and he’s mostly human looking… if it weren’t for the slightly translucent skin and the large spiked mace hanging from his belt.

“Excellent! Well met, Cousin!” he says with a smile as he holds his arms wide.

I squint at the visitor as I wrack my brain reviewing my long list of relatives. I think I recognize him… swear I’ve seen his face… but I think his family fled to the Prime long ago. What was his name…

“Theridon? Is that you? I haven’t seen you since the family reunion!”

“In the flesh,” he replies as he bows and tosses a scroll in my direction that solidifies in my grasp. “I have been sent here to let you know that you’re all being played.”

“No shit,” I chuckle wryly as I read over the scroll.

“If you can find the things listed on the scroll,” he continues, “you can overdrive your helm and find the Citadel on the Edge of Time.”

“That’s where your grand-dad is…right?” I mutter to Constance in a staged whisper as I go over the list. Everyone else is trying to prevent her from meeting the Sapphire Mage… and now suddenly someone wants us to meet him? When aren’t we being played?

“Oh really?”

View
June 21 XP
Next level 6th
XP Needed 35,000

Kills
Harmonium Elf Fighter 1/Evoker 5/Eldritch Knight 3 4,800 xp

Story Award
1,000 xp

Updated XP
Constance Oracle 5 – 28,160 xp
Hodey Artificer 6 – 38,660 xp
Kargat Sorcerer 5 – 25,660 xp
Weylond Fighter 5 – 27,160 xp
Katya Witch 6 – 36,660 xp

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Katya's Journal Part 22 - Family Reunions
Blood is thicker than water... but thinner than gold.

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The robed cultist seems to be taking his sweet time… so I take a moment to look around. Hmmn… 15 or so red-robed guys with knives chanting in some ancient Baazatu dialect. I close my eyes for a moment and concentrate on Omen, but all I can see is grey mists. Great… guess he’s just as lost as I am. I listen again to the chants when suddenly it clicks. That’s not ancient Baazatu… it’s the language of the ancient ones! Here? Wherever here is… if I wasn’t about to be sacrificed I’d love to ask them where they discovered enough of their language to learn to speak it.

Ah well… maybe in the next life.

I give a tug on my binds and have to fight a grin. While they may have latched down my braids, they didn’t realize that my powers effect all of my hair. Ebony strands lash out as the cultist fumbles with his dagger and wrap themselves around the cultist’s neck as I growl at him in his own tongue thanks to my latest hex. “You DARE attack the Chosen One?” I know… I know… a bit messianic on my part, but I figured I’d try to scare them a bit.

An axe swings out of the mist along with an angry looking Gif in a cowboy hat as it chops off the legs of the cultist I was choking. I’ve never been so glad to see that giant cowboy… but showing my gratitude will have to come later. I pull and twist against the ropes and just manage to free one wrist… which is enough with the help of my hair to free myself as Wayland proceeds to chop down another cultist.

Another cultist bursts into flames as Constance appears into view with another tiefling that makes me gasp. “Cousin?” I whisper in shock as he runs by with his spiked chain and takes out another cultist. “What the hell happened while I was gone?” I mutter to myself as Wayland chops another cultist in half with his axe.

“This is getting a bit crowded…” I finish freeing myself from my bonds and with a thought float up into the air to get a better view of things. I’ll deal with a cousin I haven’t seen in over 7 years appearing suddenly after we stop the people trying to kill me.

“Oh yeah.. just a few more steps to the right…” I reach into my pouch and rub the fur between my fingers as I begin the words to the Lightning spell that I had held in reserve. Let’s see how well that bit of augmentation works… The force of the lightning bolt pushes me back slightly as it explodes from my fingertips and fries the first cultist to a crisp. The second in line glows for a moment before falling to his knees while the third and fourth burst into clouds of carbon and dust. I’m hit with a dagger in my shoulder before I can gloat, however. Damn accuracy spells!

I can feel the air change about me as there’s a sudden dip of energy around us. My skin shivers and I can just tell that necromancy is afoot. As if the dead cultists turning into skeletons and getting up off the ground wasn’t a clue. I look to Constance to warn her, but am quickly taken aback as the usually invisible spirits that I had gotten used to about her seem to be a lot more visible… and a lot less friendly.

The lone cultist who managed to survive my spell gets up off his knees… only to find himself unable to defend against the swing of Wayland’s axe. The cultist falls while uttering something sharp and gutteral, and then fades away. Damn… I was hoping the skeletons would fade with his death. The tiefling that I believe could be my cousin rears over in pain as a sudden THUNK causes him to grab his… well… grab below the belt.

“By the gods! Did he get hit where I think he….” Wayland exclaims as he reflexively shifts to protect his nether regions.

The tiefling falls to his knees and wretches.

Gods… looks like it. Even if he didn’t get hit ‘there’… it’s close enough to make a man regret things.

“Time to get out of here!” exclaims Constance as she pulls out a strange device with a glowing green stone in it. “Everyone to me!” Before I can even move, however, there is a bright flash of light and suddenly I’m on the quarterdeck of the Bubbersaint in the hallway towards the front of the ship.

“Get to the helm room, Katya, we could use your help!” Constance exclaims over the tubes, and I take to the air as fast as I can.

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

I fly up to the helm room and take a deep breath before entering to try and calm myself. If it is my cousin, I need to play it cool. Hells, I haven’t seen him for over seven years… not since I tried to set him on fire with Keros Oil when he dipped my braids in Imp musk! I can’t let him know this whole experience has been rattling me. Just who were those cultists, anyway, and why were they after me? Could it have anything to do with the book?

“Yeah, I got this coin with a message on it, you see…” I can hear the tiefling say. “Esteban says he has a deal for us if I could get us all together.”

“Considering everything we went through to get her back, I hope the deal is a good one,” replies Constance. “I don’t want to have to fight demon apes again any time soon.”

Aww… they fought off demon apes to find me? I’m touched!

“Esteban isn’t anybody to fool around with though,” Hodey warns. “He’s a powerful Ogre Mage from the Trade Consortium on Sigil.”

“Ogres are bad enough,” Waylond agrees. “When they’re intelligent too… look out.”

“Hey… that’s all grand… but in the meantime, do you think I could get an ice pack or something?” the tiefling groans. “It’s still burning quite a bit.”

Aha! There’s my cue.

“Kargat! Why didn’t you say you weren’t feeling well? Let your favorite cousin heal your wounds…” I say with a wide grin as I open the door and walk towards him with open arms.

“K-k-katya… how nice to see you!” he says in surprise as he backs up a few steps into the bar. “Really… I feel fine…” he says weakly before passing out and flopping to the ground.

I kneel down and roll him over onto his back as I examine the unusual pink tinge to his cheeks and open his mouth to inspect his tongue. “Yup… that’s some nasty old school stuff right there.”

“What is it?” Constance asks worriedly.

“Essence of Hell Blossom Root… typical of your more barbaric fiends.” I reply as my eyes glow with a detection cantrip. I reach into the pouch at my belt and pull out a vial of a slightly glowing green liquid and uncork it with a grin. “Lucky for him I have experience with such things.” I reach down and slap Kargat’s cheek gently. “Wake up, sleepy head… time to take your medicine.”

“Ugh… fine…” he mutters and opens his mouth weakly.

“I thought you didn’t trust her?” Hodey jokes.

“It’s a family thing…” he answers after he swallows the potion down. “We’ve got dibs when it comes to killing each other.” The color fades from his cheeks after a few moments and he sits up slowly. “Katya… I think I may have gone mad. How’s Ribcage?”

“Far away from me, thankfully,” I reply with a wry smile as I help him stand up. “Welcome to the party, cousin… we’re all mad here.”

“Everybody hold on to your shit!” a voice warns over the pipes moments before the ship is shaken and buffeted by a magical storm. Kargat falls back on the floor and Wayland loses his footing, tripping over the helpless tiefling and falling down ontop of him.

“Mmmph…. going to be sick…” I can hear Kargat moan.

Wayland scrambles off of the tiefling as quick as he can and I help Kargat into a chair while doing my best not to laugh at the situation. “Here… drink this,” I set a shot glass full of Troll’s Piss down in front of him. “It will help put things into perspective.”

“Drinks! Now that sounds like a plan!” Hodey agrees and goes about pouring drinks at the bar as we all sit down to discuss what happened.

“Check out this dagger… looks pretty nasty.” Wayland sets a dagger on the table with a red eye on the end of the hilt and a black serrated blade.

“Wow… is that… that looks like the Baernoloth!”

“The what?”

“The Baernoloth are the race that proceeded demons and devils. In fact, they’re the near god-like race of creatures where demons and devils come from. There haven’t been a sighting of any of them in millions of years, though.”

Wayland looks at the dagger warily. “Is it magical?”

“It radiates evil like you wouldn’t believe… seems to be especially made for blood sacrifices.” I flip the dagger over in my hands and run a nail along the blade. “The one Connie picked up and has on her belt there is evil too and likes to make people bleed… but this one takes the cake.” I pull out a silk cloth and wrap it around the dagger before slipping it into my sack. “I’ll just keep it safe. So… what is this I hear about Esteban? What’s that weapons dealer want with us ?”

“Weapons dealer?” asks Waylond curiously.

“Yeah… he has a habit of making a profit by selling to both sides of the Blood War on the behest of a celestial. Last I heard he expanded into performance enhancing drugs and custom weapons. Kind of makes you wonder if he doesn’t have some of the blood line in him, honestly. Bloody genius if you ask me.”

“The more fascinating thing to note,” I say as I lean forward onto the table, “is that Esteban is yet another party from Sigil who is interested in us. Just what have we gotten ourselves into ? Can you play the message again, Garan?”

Cousin, it would seem that your recent actions and acquisitions have come to the attention of Esteban. If you want to talk business I am sure you can find us.

“Well, sounds like we need to get to Sigil after all,” Constance says as she stands up from the table. “Waterdeep is probably the best place to get there… let me go check my charts.”

“Hey…have any of you seen Omen after we got back?” I ask as I scan the ceiling for my feathered companion.

“Hodey probably ate him while you were gone,” Constance taunts.

“Guess I’ll just cut him open and check, shall I?” I answer snidely before taking a deep breath and concentrating as I close my eyes. Wait… yes… there… ropes… barrels… and multiple Kobolds in little tuxedos.

“Seriously… I need to make a sterility potion for you,” I chuckle as I raise my brow at Hodey.

“Speaking of… do you think I could make a summoning circle in your lab, cousin?” asks Kargat.

“It’s been set up with the proper protections… I don’t see why not. If you’re into summoning, you might like some new formulas I picked up… it’s some crazy old stuff from another dimension. You’ve got to be careful, though… it might blow your mind. Literally.” I wrap my arm around his shoulder and escort him down the hall towards my labs.

“But… you never shared your lab with me!” Constance pouts.

“I think that’s because you stole her book,” Wayland offers helpfully.

~~~~~~

After a few hours we’re all healed and fed after our latest escapade and fly by the Tears of Selune before coming into port to land in the waters near Waterdeep. Add another hour for dealing with the red tape and bureaucracy, and we’re ready to depart to look for the portal we need to get to Sigil.

“Ugh… it’s winter!” Constance groans. “I need to go shopping because I don’t have any winter clothes. Dang it… I don’t have any lady friends to go shopping with, either!”

“What about Katya?” offers Hodey. Constance looks at him in surprise as I look at him with a raised eyebrow.

“I think I’m going to go weapon shopping!” Wayland says cheerfully as he breathes in the brisk cold air.

“We should meet at the Singing Sword for dinner at 6 bells… that’s where the portal is.” says Hodey.

“I’m going to see if I can make a few coin with my contract services,” mentions Kargat as he gazes at the people with a smile. “What year is it again?”

~~~

We all meet up again for dinner after a few hours… Waylond with a bag that he can’t help but look at fondly every few minutes, Connie with a new jacket that she keeps running her hands over, Kargat with a look of disappointment and me with a look of resignation at having to play “girlfriend.” Thankfully they serve strong enough drinks here for me to get over it.

“Well I’m full,” Wayland groans after he wipes his chin and sets down his mug. “I’ve got the key we’ll need… shall we? I believe the portal is over by the men’s room.”

“Gods… I wonder how many rich drunk people have fallen through that one,” I chuckle as we get up from the table.

“Wait for me, you bastards!” we hear a voice calling through the crowded resturaunt.

“Hodey, where have you been ?” asks Constance.

“Time for that later…” he huffs as he looks back and we notice a dozen gruff looking fighter types pushing through the crowd towards us. “Time to go is now!”

~~

The spiky architecture and damp stench of the Clerk’s Ward quickly reminds me why I don’t usually spend a lot of time in Sigil. Hodey, however, is back in his element as we’ve come out not far from the Civic Fest Hall.

“I’m back! I’m off to see the family… I’ll be back in 2 hours.” And with that, Hodey disappears into the crowd.

“Where’d that little guy get off to so fast?” Constance wonders as she climbs up on Wayland’s shoulders for a better view.

“It’s going to take a while to see Esteban,” Kargat advises us. “Proper forms will have to be filled out… things have to be signed in triplicate, palms have to be greased…you know… the usual.”

“Sure we didn’t come out back in Ribcage?” I snort.

View
June 14, 2012 XP and Notes

Next level 6th
XP Needed 35,000

Kills
Cultists x20 2000xp
Baernoloth Worshipper 3,000 xp
Story Award
500 xp

No XP for Hodey (absent)

Constance Oracle 5 – 28,375 xp
Hodey Artificer 6 – 37,500 xp
Kargat Sorcerer 5 – 25,875 xp
Weylond Fighter 5 – 27,375 xp
Katya Witch 6 – 36,875 xp

View
June 7, 2012 Xp and Notes
Next level 6th
XP Needed 35,000

Kills
Aboleth 3,200 xp
Giralion 2,400 xp
Story Award
400 xp

No XP for Katya (absent)

Constance Oracle 5 – 27,000 xp
Hodey Artificer 6 – 37,500 xp
Kargat Sorcerer 5 – 24,500 xp
Weylond Fighter 5 – 26,000 xp
Katya Witch 6 – 35,500 xp

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Katya's Journal Part 21 - A Little Piece and Harmonium
Where's a cleric when you need one?

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After a day of experimentation, it seems that the best Kobold deterrant is still a water bottle squirted in the face. That only works if you catch them, however… so I decide to go back into town the next day to find some better warding spells for my doors.

When I’m walking past he docks, however, I can’t help but notice one of the ships flying the colors of the Harmonium. “Great… planar cops,” I mutter reflexively before an idea comes to mind when one of the cops passes me towards his ship. I step into the shadows and pull out the Scroll of Witness that I purchased the other day and cast it on the hapless soldier. Let’s see what your eyes can show me…

I sit back in the shadows behind some crates and close my eyes, allowing the visions of the soldier to fill my mind. There’s a large helm room with charts, but the layout of the upper planes has flags in a number of different places. Trouble hot spots, perhaps? He walks up to what I can only assume is his commanding officer from the salute he gives before going into a rather detailed report… on us.

“We’ve kept tabs on them ever since they docked, sir. No, he hasn’t tried to contact them yet… we’re just waiting for him to make his next move. Yes, we’re keeping an eye out, and we’ll try and intercept him before contact is made.”

Interesting…if the cops don’t want us to contact this guy that bad, it might be worthwhile finding out why.

Instead of heading back to the ship right away, I spend the rest of the day being as conspicuous as possible. Thankfully when you’re a Tiefling, all that means is that you walk around in plain sight of the humans and let their fear mongering do the rest.

In fact, it’s only an hour later after a few drinks at a local bar that I’m confronted with a strange knife-wielding figure in the alley. “May Azroth take your eyes!” I exclaim as I point to him with a curse… but nothing seems to happen. He then drops the knife and tries to grab me… but it’s easy enough for my braids to restrain him and hold him up against the wall. “What in the hells so you think you’re doing?” I growl.

His mumbled response is enough to make me rear back in surprise as I take in the damage done to his face. “By the Gods… what did they do to you?” I whisper as the creature moans past the bloody threads sewing his lips shut. I reach into my pouch for a cricket and put the poor creature to sleep with a spell, and once I set him on the ground am able to scan him with a Detect Magic spell to find that he’s covered in spells, as well as a few different auras.

“Let’s get you back to the ship,” I mutter as I sling his arm around my shoulders and prop him up with a hand about his waist. “Can’t handle his drink,” I end up joking as local guards walk by on patrol.

~~~~~~~~~

“Guess who tried to kill me?” I announce to my companions as I kick open the door to the bar and lay my prisoner out on one of the long tables.

“This time, you mean?” snickers Hodey as he searches for some rope to tie up the prisoner.

“Hah-hah, Kobold,” I reply dryly. “He’s got some strong magic effecting him… seems like some power words and necromantic spells with a contingency attached to it. Definitely Infernal in origin, too.”

“Rule of Three, maybe?” asks Constance as she examines the prisoner’s wounds and tries to heal him.

“That’s my guess… it’s just…”

“What bothers you?”

“I think this contingency might just be him waking up again. This power word spell… I think it’s a variant of Power Word Kill… I just can’t say who it will effect if he wakes up. Of course if it’s him, we can always question him afterwards,” I reply with a worried shrug.

“Well that’s a disturbing thought,” Connie says as she slaps her sides in frustration. “No point in me trying to heal him, then.”

“It’s all a part of your shining personality,” I chuckle. “You can’t resist helping the underdog.” Connie laughs and waves me off as she and Hodey decide to have a conversation with our new cook instead.

“Considering my natural resistance, how about I wake him up while you hide behind the bar?” offers Waylond.

“Good idea, my friend.” I duck behind the bar and cover my ears just in case as Weylond gives a hefty kick to the side of the sleeping assassin. A few seconds later I can feel the magical shockwave pass and hold my breath as I look over the edge of the bar.

“Oh thank goodness,” I say as I take in the seemingly unharmed Giff. Suddenly the prisoner arches his back and falls over dead as we both step back in surprise.

“Well that answers that question…”

“Greetings, cousin!” announces a ghostly figure in Infernal as it sits up from the corpse. “We’re glad you’ve passed these tests and obstacles, and would be interested in bartering with you for knowledge that you and your friends have. Fly a read flag on the main mast in open space as you move through the Gallion Nebula. If you pass that test, we will have a bargain for you.”

“What the heck was that?” asks Waylond. “Did you understand a word it said?”

“Know anything about the Gallion Nebula, Waylond?” I ask. They have trouble trusting me enough… no need to tell them that potential relations from the planes of hell are trying to arrange a family reunion.

“Sure… it’s huge, long, and knocks anybody for a loop who tries to ride it,” he chuckles. “You know, like my-”

“Hah! Okay… seriously,” I choke out around my laughter.

“Hey, I am serious! Have you seen it?” he winks. “But yeah… the Gallion Nebula is around 3,000 miles long and is a cloud of stellar smoke in the shape of a sailing gallion in Greyspace, hence the name. Stories say it’s got some wicked rapids to it too.”

“Well I guess we’re in for some fun, then.”

“Only if you buy me dinner first,” Waylond chuckles.

The ghostly image shimmers and disappears, leaving behind a faint whisper that sends a chill down my spine.

“Finish this and we’ll see you in the City of Dis, sister-cousin.”

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

“Sounds like fun to me!” Constance replies after we fill her in. Apparently their talk with our new cook was productive, as we’re going to have a shipment of rare foods delivered once we get back to Greyspace.

It takes about a week to get back to Greyspace after just managing to get away from a Starwhale with rather…amorous intent. Thankfully the damage is nothing that can’t be buffed out with the proper application of hammers, or a few mending spells. Since we have a moment to catch our breath, I decide to be magnanimous and brew a few helpful potions for the crew.

Things almost seem back to normal for the most part… until we finally get to the edge of the nebula itself. I can feel a warm heat at my side as the strange silver-plated dagger I picked up from the assassin begins to glow. “I wonder what this test will be?” a voice whispers in my mind.

Suddenly the ship jolts to the side and the hull creaks in complaint. “OH SHIT!” Constance’s voice echos across the ship through the tubes. “Hold on to something!”

Crew run about the ship the best they can tying down loose objects and sealing windows and doors as Waylond stumbles past with a makeshift red flag in hand to fly as our signal. The closer we get to the nebula it seems the more a thin smoke seems to be building outside the ship… as well as inside.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” I say to myself before I lose my grip and fall against one of the ballistas. Damn, that’s going to leave a mark or two.

The mist continues to rise and I swear I can begin to see small humnanoid figures moving about in it. I remember stories of zones of wild magic where visions may become solid and not always friendly. Come to think of it, there was a rather inebriated old sailor on Refuge talking about Mystra and the nebula, and how their priest managed to save them after the shadows killed their mage. Crap… I better be extra careful.

I quickly make my way up to the helm room to find Constance staring at a strange metal ball covered in bands and rivets in the distance through the main viewport. It seems vaguely Dwarvish to me… but for the life of me I’m having a hard time trying to tell its actualy size. Maybe 10 feet across? I’m just not sure, dammit! There’s a decided shift in our path as the strange object is suddenly caught in our wake.

“Something feels weird,” says Connie softly.

I grab the intercom tube. “Be alert, these mists on the ship are born of wild magic and are full of illusions,” I warn. “Would any clerics on board please report to the helm room.”

The ship shifts again as Constance just manages to avoid an asteroid of oxedized copper that seemingly appears out of nowhere.

“The heck is going on?” yells Wayland as he and the rest make their way to the helm room with the two clerics Constance managed to hire back at The Dock as back-up pilots. “There were these guys who wanted to go to see the captain, but then they just disappeared!”

The ship wrenches to the side again and I bruise my shoulder this time as I’m thrown into the side of Constance’s chair. “The veil is too thin here,” I grunt as I get up. “Magic is running wild and the spirits…”

“Are attacking my foot!” Constance screams as we all turn to see a smoky black tentacle wrapped around her ankle.

“It’s a fiend-touched Haunt!” I declare as I back up in fear. “Quick, see if you can turn it!” Damn ethereal creatures…

I shield my eyes from the glowing light of positive energy shooting from the hands of the cleric of Ptah, and as such don’t notice as one of the tentacles manages to grab my ankle too. There’s a pulling sensation in my gut that leaves me ill to my stomach… and suddenly I can’t move my arms or legs as I seem to be stretched out on a cold gray slab.

“What the… where in the Nine Hells am I?” I yell as I struggle against my ropes and my vision slowly returns.

…I wonder if that chanting guy with the knife will tell me?

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Katya's Journal Part 20 - The Dock
Down at the Docks

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Two weeks pass in the pholgiston…

“What in the 9 Hells is that thing?” I exclaim as I point to a strange orb-shaped ship covered in metalic tubes and tentacles in the distance.

“Beholder ship,” Constance replies quietly as she walks up to stand beside me to stare out the window. “We’re going to have to take it slow and quiet until they pass… we don’t want to draw undue attention from them right now.”

“Now, she says…” I chortle. “I could do just fine never having to encounter a Beholder in person, let alone their ship.”

“Hmmn… perhaps I could paint one… they are quite intricate after all,” Constance wonders to herself. “For many, a good depiction might be the closest they’ll ever come to one.”

“Well, if you ever need any assistance, it might be a good break from the lab,” I mutter. Group activities aren’t really my thing… but I realize after the last incident with the book that I need to interact with the crew in more… positive ways if I want to get anything done.

“I’d like that,” Constance smiles after getting over her initial surprise at my offer.

More days pass as we fly by everything from a school of Space Sharks to a few more galleons with the same scarlet sails as The Sparrow Hawk that atacked us.

“So what is the plan of action now?” I ask in boredom and frustration as I set my empty glass loudly on the bar. “How about going to somewhere where we can get to Sigil, so we can find out why The Rule of Three tried to burn our ship down?”

“Well, I was thinking about that,” replies Constance. “We need a trusted person to leave on the main ship while we go planetside… and we also need a smaller craft that will allow us to do it. The Bubbersaint is just too big for your usual landings in lakes and such.”

“And just where would we get what we need?” asks Waylond curiously.

“I figured we’d head to The Dock, actually.”

My eyes widen at the thought of heading to the infamous Arcane trade city. “Have you ever heard of Arumundai by any chance?” I ask the Maztican pilot nonchalantly as I lean on the helm beside her. “It’s a closed sphere no one has been able to get into for years. That is… until the Arcane sold the entire star system to the Batazu.” That got her attention at least. “The Arcane are involved in shady dealings, and not only should they not be trusted… they should be investigated.”

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

The Dock… from what I’ve learned fro Hodey, it’s an Arcane trade city mostly run by the Shu and the only one on Torril. The massive crater the Dock is built into is inaccesible by anything other than space craft, making it perfect for the Arcane’s uses.

“Welcome to the Dock,” announces a willowy yellow-skinned man with long white hair and beard. “If I could speak with your Captain, I would gladly inform your most honorable one of the necessary tariffs and forms in order to visit our illustrious city.”

“He’s all yours, Constance,” I joke before ducking into the shadows. Let her deal with the red tape… I’m more interested in a certain red banner I saw on a ship down the way, because I swear it’s the same one I saw during our fight. My suspicions are confirmed as I take in the pock-marked hull and scorch marks from my lightning spell. I grin to myself as I spy the captain walking down the gangplank and step into a side alley before calling Omen to me. “I need you to keep an eye on him, my friend… watch what he does and who he talks with, and report to me when the bell tower strikes.” I feed him a few pieces of salted pork from my pouch before stroking his feathers and sending him on his task.

Taking the opportunity, I decide to do some local information gathering about the Arcane while wandering the docks… but alas, all it gets me is sore feet and a warning from about asking too many questions. I tried some inquiries as to their enemies too… because living in Ribcage has taught me that the enemy of my enemy can be my friend… for now. From what I was told about the Dizintar, however… there’s a reason they’re somebody’s enemy. I mean really… when you’re a sentient suit of black plate mail, you don’t have a lot of choices in life. It might be useful finding out if they’re doing something horrible to cause the Arcane to work together with the Illithids, however. We shall see.

When I get back to the ship, however, my fantasies of hot baths and servant boys are quickly interrupted by the excited squealing of a gaggle of jet black Kobold females hanging about outside.

“WE LOVE YOU, HODEKIN!”

Oh dear gods… groupies. Thankfully it doesn’t take much to sneak passed the awestruck kobolds and I’m able to finally make my way to the bar where Omen should be waiting if I’m lucky.

By the time I’m done with my fourth drink I’ve learned from Omen that the captain of the ship went off to have a heated argument with someone from the Elven fleet of all things. I guess even those poncy poofs accept bribes once and a while.

“I think we should go get some dinner and see about maybe replacing the cook,” Constance tells Waylond as they walk past me through the bar. “I picked up some pamphlets while looking around, and this Bernard Grimley guy looks good. It says he cooked for Blackstaff, even.”

“Hmmn… looks like we’ll have to make sure we’ve got staff who speak Gnome, just in case.”

“I’m sure it won’t be a problem…”

Oooh boy… this is going to be interesting. I can’t help but snicker at the thought of our new ships cook being a racial enemy of Kobolds. As long as he doesn’t spit in my food, everything will be fine in my book.

Well if they’re going to be busy unintentionally stirring things up for Hodey… I might as well have some fun of my own. I follow the sounds of squealing down the hall into the common room where the wayward Kobold is “entertaining” his new guests and shuffle into the room with a hunched back and rubbing my hands together as I sniff the air. I walk around the edge of the group of Kobold women and bend down to noticeably sniff each one. “This one smells particularly fertile,” I cackle. “You did promise me a firstborn, after all!” I then bare my sharp teeth and grin widely. “I do hate to be kept waiting.”

I levitate out of the room for effect and hurry around the corner before I can’t hold the laughter in any longer. Gods… I’m such a stinker.

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

The next morning I’m awoken by knocking at the door. “There’s a visitor here who wishes to see the captain, miss!”

“Do I look like the captain to you?” I growl angrily as I fling open the door, my hair flailing about in the worst kind of bed hair imaginable.

“No ma’am! I’ll get you your coffee r-r-right away, ma’am!” stutters the nervous bellboy before running down the hallway.

By the time I’m ready to deal with people this incredibly bright morning, Constance is already cheerfully escorting an Arcane around the ship as he extolls on all his wonderful options that “he’d be more than glad to sell us at a great price.” Smug meddling creatures… I know they’re up to something… I just have to put the pieces together.

When the Arcane walks by, I mutter a chant from the book under my breath, “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn,” and smirk when I see the brief look of surprise as he glances my way.

“It doesn’t look like we’re going anywhere for a bit, so I’m going to head into town… things are just too crowded here for my tastes.” I sneer at the Arcane as I brush by him out the door and fly towards town.

I’d been thinking this over for a while now ever since they tried to steal the book from my room “for my own good.” There’s definitely a taint to the knowledge within those pages… but while I refuse to give up my quest for that knowledge, I will concede their point and see about getting atoned by a cleric. I don’t see what I need atonement for really… it’s not like I sacrificed people to the Dark Lord or anything… but hey, if it keeps them out of my room and the tentacles out of my brain, I’ll give it a shot.

The big question though, is which church would be willing to help out a Tiefling who willingly dealt with forbidden knowledge? Half of the goody-goody churches would probably burn me the second I stepped over their thresholds. Wait… what about the one I gave the book to in the first place? Silly Tiefling… maybe the Church of Boccob would understand my plight.

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

“Hey guys, guess what I found out!” exclaims Waylond as he hefts the strange silver gun we found on the portal ship onto the bar. “Some guys named Psurlons who live deep in the Astral Plane made it!”

“Curious…” I reply before sipping my afternoon booster of Dwarven coffee and Troll’s Piss. “…it seems that the Astral Plane keeps coming up. I did some research on Fedefensor when I was on church row and discovered that it was created by some church to fight the Githyanki who were invading, who also live on the Astral Plane. In fact, the sword was even rumored to be lost on the Astral Plane.”

“What about the Rule of 3?” asks Waylond. “Have you found out anything about them?”

“Get this…” I reply, warming up to the topic now that I can feel the caffiene flowing though my veins. "…he appears to most people as a Githzari (also from the Astral), but he’s actually a Cambian Half-Demon whose father is none other than that dashing Grazz’t, Lord of the Abyss. He’s a cryptic bastard who speaks in triads, and he owns a bar in Sigil called “The Styx Orision.”

“I wonder what he wants with us, then?” asks Hodey as he takes a seat at the bar.

“Well he is an information broker… so chances are he’s either doing this because someone paid him to… but he’s also a demon, so he could be doing it in order to screw somebody else over and move up on the proverbial ladder.” I shrug and take another sip of my now cooling drink. “Hard to say, really.”

“Oh by the way…” Hodey begins before grabbing some nuts from a bowl and scooting off his stool in a hurry, “theremightbesomemoreKoboldsaround.”

I groan to the bartender as the warning sinks in and take a long gulp to finish off my drink. “If anyone needs me I’m going to be in my lab… trying to invent some Kobold Repellant.”

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Katya's Journal Part 19 - Pirates!
When I said I wanted to get boarded, this isn't what I meant!

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Pirates!

The quandry of the missing doppelganger is soon forgotten as the pirate ship comes into full view along side the Bubbersaint. I run for the balista room in order to have a window to shoot spells from, but end up settling for the catapult room with Waylond and Hodey while Constance runs to the Helm Room.

I look down as I feel a strange pressure on my hand to see a glowing symbol pressed there by a stamp in Hodey’s hand. “Good spells,” Hodey replies to my questioning look. I shiver and my extremities tingle as the Haste spell courses through my being. “Anybody recognize the ship? I thought maybe they were the Githyanki pirates we encountered last, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.”

I take a closer look at the ship from my view of relative safety thorugh the bolt hole. There’s a gathering of mostly human motley priate types… an older fellow with a big hat yelling orders… and a gray robed woman with a gold headdress. Target acquired.

If I’ve learned anything from my adventures with these people it’s that you should always take out the magic users first. I can only assume everyone else knows that lesson as well… hence my hopefully strategic location. I smile to myself as I pull the piece of fur from my pouch and mutter the words of the Lightning spell as I keep the woman in my sight… and then unleash a cracking BOOM of electricity from my outstretched fingers that strikes her in the chest just as she raises her hands to cast a spell. I make a tsk noise as I notice the woman still twitching in a sizzling heap of flesh on the deck. “I tried to make it clean, lady… but it seems your gods are not with you today.”

“Wah-HOO!” cheers Waylond as he fires the ballista and manages to puncture the side of the ship. I turn to offer my congratulations when I’m forced to grab my shoulder in pain from the arrow suddenly sticking out of it. I can still feel the faint magical aura surrounding the vile thing as I bite my tongue to block the screams and pull it out.

“I would make you all burn…” I mutter as I pull a handful of rose petals from my pouch, “but He prefers his food raw.” The Sleep spell soon takes effect on the group of pirates getting ready to board our ship, knocking out six of them and leaving three others. The archer particularly catches my eye… and not just because of my plans for his fate; I can’t help but notice all of the arcane runes inscribed onto his pretty coat. “Dibs!” I shout as I turn to Waylond and Hodey. “I call dibs on the coat!” I turn back just in time to dodge a rope lashing out from the other ship and missing my face. “They’re starting to board!” I yell out in warning as more animated ropes lash about and pirates begin to throw grappling hooks.

Waylond fires the balista once again and achieves a pallatable hit against the pirate ship, leaving the crew scattered and screaming from the sudden damage. “Now how about that?” Waylond exclaims as he grins at Katya.

“Where would we be without you, Waylond?” I chuckle as the Giff flexes his forearms for me to see. Thinking quickly of the boading party, I float into the air and fly towards the main doors in the hopes that I can keep them closed with the right spell.

“That’s my ship, you BASTARDS!” a voice yells from one of the floors above, soon accompanied by the sound of sawing and grinding.

Are they already aboard? What’s that sound?

“Stupid bugs! Get off me!” I hear Waylond shout from the catapult room. Hodey fires a blast from one of his many devices and flees down the hall. I stop for a moment to shout for him to join me, but I’m soon drowned out by the cannon ball exploding through the wall.

Damn it! Guess I’m on my own. I make my way up another level and down to the other side of the ship to finally make it to the main boarding gates. I tune out the sounds of pounding fists and activate the runes on my gloves to focus my Hold Portal spell against their efforts. At least they won’t be coming in this way…

The sounds of screams and pounding feet echo closer and closer down the hall as I activate my Wand of Shield and duck into the shadows of a utility hall. I’m scrambling for a hold in the hallway when suddenly the ship dives and twists in Constance’s attempt at popping the ropes and pulling away from the pirate ship. I can tell from the screams of pirates outside that it must have worked. When I hear Hodey’s scream, however, I risk leaving cover and fly down the hallway towards my scaly friend… only to be just missed as a ballista pierces the hull of the ship and skewers our cook. Damn… poor Stu… as if he hadn’t suffered enough already.

If I wasn’t flying down the hall already, the ship’s steep dive would’ve sent me careening into a wall, I’m sure. By the time I get back to Hodey in the catapult room Waylond is cleaning up after showing what looks like what used to be a necromancer the business end of his axe. Thankfully with his death, the swarm of spiders that invaded the ship soon fades. “Katya will keep you safe, Hodey, while I take control of the main gun.”

“That necromancer gave me an idea!” says Hodey as he searches through his backpack.

“Whatever it is, make it quick!” I mutter over my shoulder as I keep an eye on the hallway for more pirates.

I can hear the colorful sounds of draconic muttering and tinkering before he taps me on the back. “Here we go! Mechanical Mending Spiders!”

I look down at his outstretched hand and almost jump back at the sight of a handful of clockwork spiders. “Those… are under your control, right?”

Hodey snickers for a moment. “The whole bunch of them. I’ll send them to start repairing the ship while we take care of the rest of these berks!”

BA-BOOM! The sound of the main gun echos through the ship and Waylond hoots in joy as the pirate ship begins to drift. “That takes care of the ship… now lets go round up some prisoners!”

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

“You know, I think I finally recognize that standard,” says Constance as she rubs her chin and looks out at the drifting pirate ship from the helm room. "It belongs to Captain Elreth “Grudge” Treeg, a bard of some infamy."

“Well I guess I don’t need to question this guy then,” Waylond replies as he snaps the neck of one of the pirates and tosses the body at the feet of four other pirates tied up and sitting against the wall. They all turn deathly white and one of them even passes out as the head flops about loosely.

“Now if I did that you’d all turn the ship around and commit me!” I protest with a shake of my head as I gesture at the corpse.

“It’s all about the presentation,” Waylond jokes as he hefts the unconscious prisoner over his shoulder and pushes the others down the hall towards the brig.

“You know… I think their pilot might be in Spelljammer Shock after that last hit,” Constance mutters to herself.

“Well great! Let’s go over there and take it, then!” I grin with a clenched fist. “We need to send a message to pirates everywhere that you can’t raid The Bubbersaint without suffering the repercussions!”

“I don’t know… we got hit pretty bad… I think we should take care of our losses and leave it at that.” She sighs and turns to the communication tube. “I should say something to the crew.”

“Fine… you go say the nice things,” I scoff with a wave of my hand. “I’m going to go see what Waylond’s doing… perhaps I can take some notes.”

Eventually I make it through the damaged halls and after a few stops to tend to some of the worse off crew, I make it to the prison area to find Waylond already cleaning up. “They have a scout in the city who tells them about rich ships in the area… but other than that, they’re just your typical pirates really.”

“Damn it! The ship just took off!” we hear Constance yell over the tubes.

“Well crap… there goes my salvage operation,” I mutter in disappointment. “So… what do we do with these guys, then?”

“We could always make them cooks, considering what happened to poor Stu and all…”

“I don’t know about you… but dried jerky and sea biscuits are not my idea of a filling meal,” I chuckle.

“Connie was saying that maybe we should promote other crew to cooks, so maybe we could make these guys swabs instead?” The vigorous nods from the prisoners at the thought of having a job and not dying seal the deal.

“Well, if that’s all done then, I think I’m going to head back to my lab and see what I can make for the crew to help next time. I think I’ve got a recipie for a good Tanglefoot Bag around somewhere…”

“Keep an eye out for Kobolds,” warns Waylond. “I swear during the fight I saw at least 5 of those little buggers in tuxedos! Maybe I can use Hodey’s labelling maching to keep them all straight.”

FIVE? Ugh…I knew it… they’re going to spread like a plague across the ship! I shudder and nod to Waylond. “Thanks for the heads up.”

I spend the next four days alternating between creating new supplies in my alchemical lab to conducting a test with some of my spells and an interesting little ritual I discovered in my notes from the cultist’s book. From what I can tell, I can use the ritual to boost the magical energy that powers the next spell I cast. An enhanced bolt of lightning could come in useful.. you never know when we might get the Kobolds to line up.

By the time we detour around H’Catha I’ve also managed to craft some vials of acid, some anti-toxin, and some tanglefoot bags. I hope we get where ever we’re going soon…

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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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