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?