Ad Astra Per Arcana

Katya's Journal Part 28 - Enter Jinsi Que

Blood wars make strange bed fellows

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By the Gods if I have to listen to one more story about the “Nice dragon who gave them toys” I’m not going to be held responsible for my actions. Thankfully I’ve got a 25 foot tall iron gate to take my frustrations out on.

“Just..ugh…give me a minute…” I grunt as I fly up to the large handles and use my braids to inch the gates open. I might not be strong in stature… but mentally, I’m rather well endowed. Thankfully the doors aren’t trapped… but really… a doorway into Dis should be enough warning to keep people away, right? Sane people, anyway.

Once we’re able to squeeze our way through, it becomes apparent that continuing into Dis isn’t going to be a walk in the park… unless the park is two feet wide, looking over a vast chasm full of greenish smoke and the screams of the damned. I roll my eyes at Hodekin as he eagerly looks over the edge and wrap my braid around his waist to keep him close… just in case his curiousity gets the better of him.

What am I saying… when his curiousity gets the better of him.

Once we’re about a mile down we reach a stone bridge and begin to detect a wonderful new smell a the heat rises.

“Sulfur…smells like home!” Annika jokes as she straightens her hat.

I’m about to retort with how I feel about home when I hear a scuttling sound from down the path. “Did you hear that?” I ask quietly before whispering the words of an Armor spell.

Annika nods grimly and with a wave of her hands multiple images of herself appear along the path with sword drawn. “SPIDER!” she yells as a 5-ft across spider covered in black and crimson fur comes racing up the cliffside wall towards us.

A purple mist from one of Hodey’s machines combines with the green mist of Dis as I feel the energy of his Haste spell run across my skin. I soar up into the air in order to give the fighters more room to maneuver and prepare my crossbow for a few pot shots. Thankfully it doesn’t last long as it falls victim to Annika’s spells and falls from the wall into the mists below.

“Well then… that was fun!” Annika jokes as she sheathes her sword. “Shall we continue?”

“Sure… let’s keep going to the place that monsters are running from in a hurry… why not?” I snort sarcastically.

We continue down the path with Annika in the lead, when suddenly she halts the group as a figure emerges on the path up through the mists.

“How are you alive down here?” She asks the rather non-descript female who looks at us questioningly. “You don’t even have any weapons on you! You aren’t even prepared!”

She’s got a point… the dimunitive woman doesn’t even radiate any magic. If she’s not a fighter or a spellcaster… what in the blazes is she?

“I was just going for a walk, acutally.” the woman replies. “Funny, though… I was going to ask you how you survived getting here too. But where are my manners? My name is Jinsi,” she bows and smiles. She looks to each of us and then stops in surprise when she comes to Constance. “Wait… are you Constance, from Bral?”

“Um…why do you ask?” Constance replies hesitantly as she fingers the handle of her mace.

“I am a monk from Bral myself… I’ve actually heard a few stories about you! I loved the one about…”

“IT WASN’T OUR FAULT!” Connie interjects before she can finish. “Anyway…I thought monks couldn’t talk?”

“My sect did not require a Vow of Silence,” she answers with a polite smile. “I am more of a…requisitions specialist.”

“You mean you’re a thief,” I snort.

Requisitions specialist,” she reiterates. Sure… whatever you want to call yourself.

“Instead of mincing words about titles, how about we travel together for safety?” offers Constance as she nudges me in the ribs with her elbow. Jinsi nods and bows respectfully before we all continue on our way.

A little less than an hour later we’re still continuing down the narrow path through the mists when suddenly a gust of wind from Gods know where surges and threatens to blow us all into the Abyss. Thankfully I’m able to stabilize myself as my braid grabs onto the edge of the path… and my other holds tight to Hodey as he’s sent dangling off the edge.

“And THAT is why you don’t try to escape when I have a hold of you,” I admonish as I let him dangle for a few seconds before I pull him back up.

Eventually the winds die down and we find a wider part of the path for a place to stop and take a drink or two to satisfy parched throats. While Annika and I are more used to the heat, even Dis leaves us a bit parched.

“Good, you made it!” a disembodied voice cheers.

“Do you often hear disembodied voices?” asks Jinsi with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes, actually… but usually I’m the only one that can hear them,” I reply as a thin man in silvery ragged clothes appears sitting on the edge of the path with his feet dangling over the side. Hmmn… a higher order fiend, perhaps?

“What do YOU want?” snarls Annika.

“Oh nothing… I just want you to steal the sword, is all.”

“And you are?” I ask tiredly.

“Why do you want the sword?” asks Constance.

“I don’t want it myself… I just want you to steal it from them.”

WHO THE $#$ ARE YOU?” I yell, tired of constantly being played by third parties. “Rule of Three, maybe?”

“What… am I dressed that bad?”

“Look, right now you could be my uncle, for all I care. I am tired of getting played by you people.” I reply with a sigh.

“Look where you are… what else did you expect?” he replies.

Annika shrugs and looks at me. “He does have a point…”

“No, Katya’s right… we want nothing to do with you.” Constance says suddenly, and the man disappears.

Wait… what just happened?

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

Eventually the path comes to an end at a bridge that leads to a pair of large iron doors that look red-hot to the touch. Before we can step onto the bridge, however, it liquifies and takes the shape of a gargoyle in front of us.

“All who enter must crawl!”

“Gods… not this again,” I mutter to a chorus of distaste and groans as I pull up my boots to protect my knees.

Thankfully the crawl isn’t as long as last time, though… and we soon enter an area rife with fire and flames leading up to a massive tower that has to be at least 1,000 miles tall… if it ends at all. Odd thing, though… no matter where you turn, the tower seems to always be on the left. I know there’s a joke about the “left-handed path” there somewhere… but right now I’m too tired to care.

“Halt! State your business!” shouts two Adashi as they come up to us with weapons drawn. I dig my nails into my palms as we’re faced with even more red tape in this god-awful lawful town. Thankfully Constance and Hodekin are more than willing to give them their sales pitch.

“Thee hundred gold worth of your clockworks, and you may pass. Don’t touch the walls… and watch out for construction.”

They weren’t kidding… I have to roll out of the way into a side street and pull Hodekin with me as the street suddenly fills with large burning larva ripping the road into burning sludge.

“Look out from above!” warns Hodekin as ash and rubble rain down.

“We’ve got to get the others out of there… can you see them?” I peer through the raining ash and think I can just make out some movement. “Here goes nothing…”

I stretch out my braid as long as I can until I feel the tell-tale tug of someone grabbing onto it. I hope that it’s not a construction worker as I pull with all my might… and sigh in relief as Constance lands at my feet, singed, but not too worse for wear.

“Where’s my pack?” Worries Hodekin as he runs to check over Constance. “You were carrying my stuff!”

After a few more attempts and more than a few singed hairs I’m finally able to retrieve Annika and Hodey’s things from the burning lava that used to be a road. A few cantrips are able to take care of the dirt and ash… and thankfully our own natural protections (as well as those handy-dandy rings) kept us from taking much damage ourselves.

“I don’t know about you guys… but I’m ready to call the rest of this day a wash and get a room for the night,” Constance groans.

“Wash… oh what I’d give for a good long bath right now,” I mutter.

“There’s a servicable inn just down the street,” offers Jinsi. “I can meet you all there… I just have to go do something in the Despoiled Virgin across the street.”

Annika looks at her with a raised eyebrow and a doubtful expression. “Don’t you mean to?”

Jinsi blushes. “Just picking up a package in the bar… that’s all.” she assures us before running off.

Hodekin splurges for the rooms for us, and I spend the rest of the night resting my tired feet and summoning Omen to my side so I can memorize some new spells and make a few potions for the rest of the trip as the sounds of Hodekin’s tinkering echo through the paper thin walls.
_____________________________

The next morning we’re all awoken to a pounding on the door as a large and burly fiend with tusks informs us that we failed to read the fine print written in a coffee stain on the wallpaper behind the coffee table in the lobby.

I take it as a challenge… because if someone’s going to try and argue red tape with me before I’ve even had my breakfast, then Hell is definitely going to be the one to pay.

Unfortunately the rest (other than Jinsi, oddly enough) would rather pay than challenge a demon this early in the morning. So be it… I’ll get my money back from these cretins one way or another. In the meantime… I’ll have to make an extra potion or two for the monk.


Once I’m finally satiated with breakfast and a nicely strong cup of coffee, I decide to go in search of information regarding any potential thefts or oddness going on around town while Hodekin goes to sell his devices and Constance looks for a license for our spice merchant. A stretch, I know, looking for something strange in the city of Dis… but I’ve had a scratching in the back of my head telling me that we’re being set-up ever since we started this… and I’ve got a theory that the Sword of Fedefensor isn’t even IN the Tower of Dis anymore.

After sharing a few rounds of afternoon libations with some Clueless, I’m able to glean that I’m not the only one who’s been asking about the sword. Turns out that another group of adventurers was planning on breaking into the tower to steal the sword because of their “Invisible Sponsor.”

Trust a demon to hedge their bets.

The more I think about this though… the more perfect it sounds. We don’t have to break into the tower to steal the sword… all we have to do is wait until THEY do it.. and then steal it from them! Oh I just love it and can’t wait to tell the others when we meet up for lunch.

“Annika… wait till you hear this!” I begin, but am brought short by her worried look. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m not sure… but I think we’re being followed by a Githzarai,” she mutters as she looks around the street outside the inn. I describe the one I witnessed back on Sigil and groan when she nods. “Yeah, that sounds like the one.”

“Great… it’s The Rule of Three again,” I huff.

“I’m not scared of him,” Annika scoffs.

“Don’t be silly, cousin. Besides, last I checked he’s trying to kill Constance… not us. Come on… we’ll talk about this inside.”

We return to our rooms to find Constance and a smiling Hodekin as various Kobold servants straighten up the room.

“That’s all we need… we travel all the way to the planes of Hell and you STILL somehow manage to get laid,” I chuckle.

~~~~~~~~~~

The next day Hodey and Constance go out once again to sell their wares while I check in on any information about that “other” group of adventurers. Much to my surprise, from the excited scuttlebut around the inn it seems that the group succeeded and are currently trying to escape Dis.

“Thanksfortheinformation! Bye!” the coin spins on the table from the round of ales I purchased as Omen and I fly out of the inn to look for the others.

“The sword is on the move!” I gasp breathlessly as I finally find the others in the bazzar. “We need to catch up with them.. NOW!”

“How are we supposed to do that?” asks Constance. “Surely they’ve got a head start on us.”

I tap my foot on her boot and gaze at her with a raised eyebrow. “Magic boots, remember? You can teleport us to the entrance to Dis and we’ll see if we can cut them off.”

“Doh! Allright… let’s go, people!” Constance announces as we all grab hands and appear at the entrance to Dis surrounded by the now familiar green mist.

“Check the path behind us, my sweet,” I coo to Omen as I stroke his feathers. “See if we managed to get ahead of them.” The raven flies off into the mist, and after a few minutes returns with a flap of wings to my outstreched arm.

“You owe me eyeballs!” Omen squawks. “There is a group far behind us.”

“But of course… only the best, my sweet.” I pull out one of the Owlbear eyes that I had salvaged from our first visit to Greyhawk and smile as the raven gobbles it down.

“Now… what kind of surprise shall we set up for our new friends?”

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DungeonMasterLoki Kenari_Sanura

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