Varkata says, "I've met your Div, and don't think she was very fond of the way I blasted her with holy light... Still, is hard not to get out guard up about this, given how good you folk are at making friends... "
Rombard loses interest in the ghost cat and moves over to inspect Karethas deciding that his robe might taste good and grabs a mouthful of sleeve. Spooky floats down near the ground and pads on paws that hover a few inches above the floor to the darkened doorway. Somewhere beyond a feminine voice is heard- "Hello?"
|Amir Awad Hajjir|
By instinct Amir reach outs and cuffs Rombard gently to get the goat to let go of the wizard's sleeve. At the sound of the voice Amir will gesture to Kzrira to take a step back and pull her bow while Amir will take a few steps forward (so as to be the first person seen if the voice comes this way), In here. Who is it?
Kzrira, still not having completely figured out the free willed spirit cat, cautiously follows the cat, looking into the doorway, and into the darkness. She stays near Amir, but slightly behind him as indicated.
Who is there?
|Amir Awad Hajjir|
Amir pulls Sholeh for more light and defense and moves towards the voice, And what is Andrathi to you? What cares do you have of him?
Varkata chides, "Let's not draw steel against one that might be a friend, Old Man. Given who she's speaking of, it seems likely she's more than she seems."
"Andrathi was my world. I am Nefeshti." The darkened hall of the monastery is lit with brilliant light as a radiant being appears before you. She has skin as pale as a dove's breast and wings of fire, her eyes are blue as the hottest flame and her hair shines like burnished copper. She wears a gown of sky blue and yellow that flutters in a breeze that you cannot feel.
Suddenly, the Tempest staff jerks from Karethas' grasp as Gen appears and prostrates herself before the holy creature. "My Queen!" she gasps.
Kzrira bows her head to Nefeshti.
It is an honor. Sadly Andrathi died, many years ago we believe, trapped in the same demi-plane where he trapped the efreet. We were taken there by some magical device, against out will, and we believe this released the efreet, who returned here.
Spooky has adopted us, or me particularly. Or, perhaps we adopted him. And, Spooky has been traveling with us since we escaped the strange realm a short time ago. Andrathi must have indeed been a powerful wizard, for it seems some of his power remained with Spooky, and now I can perform a few of the simplest spells.
|Amir Awad Hajjir|
The celestial smiles faintly at the little genie. "Rise, Little One. I no longer bear that title. I am only a servant of the Dawnflower."
Spooky finishes his circling of Nefeshti and returns to Kzrira giving his ragged ears a shake before fading away again. Rombard lays off Karethas' robe and turns to butt at Hadar and Hadra who just stand and gawk at the radiant being.
Nefeshti's glowing eyes dim slightly, "When Andrathi was taken into the very trap that he lay for the Efreet, I knew he was lost for all time. I grieved for decades, maybe a centuries. I do not know. I lost track of all: my knights, my people, time itself. No one could stir me."
"It was the simple monks here that finally touched me. The ones that established this Chapel to Sarenrae in the name of my lost general, Vardishal. What a strange thing to do. The djinn have no Gods. We live beyond the mortal realm. Why would we prostrate ourselves to our cousins?"
"But many of the monks had suffered and lost as well. Driven from their homes in Osirian across the deserts into the gnoll infested wilds of Katapesh. I found companionship in these simple men and women and their honoring of my lost companions. I realized that death is necessary for life and I used a wish to cast away my immortality to become mortal and worship with these simple monks."
She pauses and gives a brief peaceful sigh before continuing, "I grew old and died as all mortals must. I was judged upon the Spire by the Lady of Graves and sent to my eternal reward. The Bright Angel honored my sacrifice and made me Peri, one of the few immortal djinn that forsake their heritage to pledge themselves to Her. I thought I would never leave the Afterworld. All my grief was gone, I had no reason to think upon it again."
"Then word came that Jhavhul had escaped Kakishon and sought to finish what he had started so long ago. I admit that I could not help but think of Andrathi once again and even after all these years, a glimmer of hope. But I would never leave my Goddess' side unless she ordered it."
"We heard from an Archon that heroes had purged the stench of Urgathoa from a sacred oasis in Katapesh not long after. It was then that Sarenrae called upon me to find these heroes and support them in driving Jhavhul and the foul Efreet from this mortal realm before they could do the unthinkable."
Varkata begins to overcome her shock, and bows her head respectfully, "I don't lay claim to the title of 'hero' -- though I strive toward it... Still, we did drive off the evil at the oasis... and would certainly accept any help you might offer."
She says, "Besides, it ould never do for a servant of the Drunken God to not offer her assistance, and by extension his, to the Dawnflower.... nor to refuse the same when it's offered."
Kzrira listens to the Janni and then to Varkata as well:
Yes, we did send the Archon to deliver the message that the oasis had been rid of the undead taint that had plagued it for so long.
Some may refer to us as heroes. However, we are simply faithful of various good deities who are doing what must be done to rid this part of Katapesh of the chaos and evil that seems want to continuously infest this hilly region.
She pauses and considers what to say next:
If you are no longer immortal, what aid can you offer to us? The last thing we wish is for one such as you to fall, but your knowledge of the efreeti, their powers and their manners could be invaluable when we must face them.
"I have been told that this is now an Age of Lost Omens, but I sense this is your destiny. When I was Queen of these lands, I called my closest viziers and generals the Templars of the Winds and even now I feel their presence within you: Andrathi, my warm and worldly South Wind, is here in Spooky and Vardishal, the icy North Wind, somehow is linked with the Tempest staff. Perhaps it is just memories of old stirred by returning to this place, but I sense that this older gentleman here bears a blade which I would swear bears the mark of Davashuum, my stealthy West Wind that steals the sun. And this priestess, I sense some djinn influence upon her soul that makes me think of Pazhvann, my lucky East Wind. Maybe it is my own will to make it so, but I sense that indeed, you are the Heroes that have been chosen to to defeat Jhavhul once and for all."
"Even so, for all your power and bravery, I cannot think that you can face an army of Efreet alone. What aid can I offer? When I ruled this land, I had a great cavalry of Jann that patrolled the skies upon flying mounts. Many were lost in the Battle of Pale Mountain, but I am certain that the survivors remain hidden in the Brazen Peaks nearby. I will seek them for a second and final assault on Pale Mountain. Perhaps some Djinn remain in these empty seeming desert as well."
"I will gather what help I can and I advise you to do the same. Free those that are captive in Kelmarane and if you know any others that would save this world from Jhavhul's madness gather them quickly!"
|Amir Awad Hajjir|
If we start with Kelemerane we might then be able to use the Princess to ask the aid of the Pactmasters. Zayifid may be able to convince the Masters of The Vault to also send more aid and so on. Is it time for us, once more, to hunt gnolls then?
|Karethas ibn Faradin|
Karethas defers humbly, "I would not say that I could in anyway embody any of the greatness of Vardishal. Although Gen has seen fit to assist me in these adventures. I CAN see that we seem to attract...remnants of those great generals." At Nefeshti suggestion of allies Karethas nods carefully, "Perhaps there may be some survivors that could be useful. Maybe the priests at the Great Vault or the Lambient Citadel might offer some aid as well."
BTW, I was looking back at our interactions with the wyrmskull to see if there were any details we forgot about Andrathi when I saw that we had been given a Wand of Restoration by the wyrmskull. Could have been helpful in the Oasis :-). Later Voodoo said it had 18 charges. I didn't see anywhere where we had sold it, so Varkata you will probably want to put it on your character sheet.
Varkata takes the wand of restoration gently, "This is, indeed, of great value. Thank you."
Kzrira looks at Spooky, once more perched on her non-shooting shoulder, scratches his chin before turning back to Nefeshti.
I always knew that you held some of the wisdom of the great wizard. I can only hope to pale by comparison, but will try my best to do the wizard, and Spooky, honor.
More importantly, what can you tell us of your ancient nemesis? What do you expect of Jhavhul and his legions? Unlike the Rovagug worshipping gnolls who were generally bent on destruction and mutilation, the efreeti are organized and likely will work as a group. This makes them strong, but, hopefully, predictable. If you can help us with how they fought in the past, we might be able to plan an assault that will catch them by surprise and enable us to get an upper hand.
Nefeshti's radiant face darkens as she speaks her enemy's name. "Jhavhul is no typical efreeti. It is no accident that he has recruited among the followers of the Rough Beast. Have you been to Pale Mountain? Yes, I see. Then perhaps you know what lies below the House of the Beast? Jhavhul is half-mad with lust- for power and for Ymeri, the most powerful being on the Plane of Fire. To impress her and prove his merit as her consort, he would do the unthinkable: resurrect the Spawn of Rovagug!"
"Katapesh was not always a desert waste. Millenia ago, in the Age of Destiny, the pharaohs summoned armies of genies- djinn, shaitan, marid and efreet- to build their cities and fight in their armies. We helped them take the green lands of the south and after Ancient Osirion fell, some stayed and ruled these fair lands in peace for millenia more ruling jann and human alike. But it was not to last for the land rumbled and a great heat rose from below to dry out the land and burn the fields. Xotani the Firebleeder, rose from the pit and lit the night with a thousand thousand fires. The green lands of what would become Katapesh, the peaceful towns, the gentle people, all turned to cinder and dust. It took a hundred wands- the greatest wizards of all Garund- to finally defeat it and the fool thinks that he could control it."
"Jhavhul built the House of the Beast on the ash heap that covers Xotani's remains. He lures in the wrathful and grants them one wish for their own use in return for two wishes disguised as prayers to the Destroyer. In truth, these prayers seek to resurrect the Spawn Xotani and bind it to Jhavhul's will. With a thousand wishes he could resurrect the Firebleeder, but not a million wishes will grant him power over it. It would turn Garund to ash, kingdoms burn, millions would die..."
"We trapped Jhavhul just before he succeeded last time, but those wishes remain active warping reality around Pale Mountain. How many more wishes does he need? Fifty? A dozen? We must move quickly- I have been gone centuries or more. You know this place better than I now. Free Kelmarane. Gather any who would join our cause. I will seek the unseen and rally those that remain."
|Karethas ibn Faradin|
Karethas sighs, "I have felt the effect of those hundreds of wishes. The very fabric of reality bends in that place and the laws of the arcane can not be counted upon. Perhaps the nature of djinn magic is different enough that your Jann will not be effected, but warn them of the possibility." Although the walls of the monastery block any line of sight, Karethas looks sadly in the direction of Kelmarane as if he can see it clearly in his mind's eye. "We freed Kelmarane last time largely on our own. I do not know what it's inhabitants might offer in a battle of such powerful forces, but we could not leave them in such straights in any case. They are our friends and we must free them. I'm sure my friends here feel the same way. Afterwards we will gather those who can help and head to the Pale Mountain. How will we contact you and coordinate our efforts once that time comes?
Kzrira nods in response to the Janni's insight.
So, the caverns of the Pale Mountain cover some Spawn of Rovagug? And Jhavhul intends to use wishes to somehow free the creature? This Xotani? I cannot say I have much education on this type of Abyssal history, but from your tone, and the fact that Sarenrae sent you back, makes me believe that we truly must stop Jhavhul from unleashing whatever this horror is.
We shall return to Kelmarane, and do all we can to free those there. My mother was here when we left, as well as our old companion Faelar and his bride. I am hopeful that they and the princess and others who would be able to aid us are still alive. We have heard rumors that Faelar and his wife may have been taken to the Pale Mountain, if so, we shall find them there.
If you have contacts who still live in the area, please contact them. We will launch an assault on the Pale Mountain as soon as we can. I recall strange magic and portals in there when we fought the Carrion King what seems like forever ago, so we still have some knowledge of the passages, unless the Abyssal chaos somehow changes the twisted tunnels.
Varkata whistles, "Suddenly, I'm really starting to wonder I agreed to follow you lot about."
She looks up to Nefeshti, "Can't say I'm not tempted to ask for an aleskin that never empties, especially since I can't imagine facing these long odds sober...."
Her brow furrows for a moment, "Would it be possible for that miracle to be cast when you return? I think we might benefit from having some time to reflect before asking for our miracles... and, more, I'm thinking I might ask the Old Drunk's advice to avoid squandering such a gift."
Her brow furrows for a moment, "Would it be possible for that miracle to be cast when you return?"
The Peri smiles. "Of course. We would just need to do it before we approach Pale Mountain. The wishwarp would make it very dangerous."
As if reading Karethas' mind, she continues. "I do not know if a miracle could overcome the wishwarp. It would be like blowing into a storm, but perhaps one could wish for great control of your magic and have better success in your efforts."
Nefeshti can see that this will not be an easy decision so she encourages you to sleep on it. A miracle is powerful magic and should not be taken lightly certainly. She can wait to leave until the morning or if you would rather save your miracles until the assault on Pale Mountain, she will bestow them when she returns.
Varkata gets properly soused to draw on inspiration from the Drunken God and soon enough a doggerel of questionable worth slur from her lips.
"There once was a Kelmerane crew,
Yet again called to the rescue
of the town from an army of gnolls and Jann,
Iron monks and Rovagug Spawn.
All just a preamble to a final fiery Doom."
Kzrira listens to Varkata and her prophecy.
Gnolls and Jann we have faced before. Iron monks I do not know. Rovagug spawn we have been facing for quite some time.
It seems that the Drunken God feels that we need to save the town. Perhaps the third times a charm will be fitting here.
Varkata hiccups, "You know, I'm not sure that made as much sense as I might have hoped... I must need another drink. Still, I'm thinking fiery doom is a bad thing."
|Karethas ibn Faradin|
Karethas assumes his familiar pose, a thoughtful look on his face as he strokes his beard. "Dean Xobhadi always chided me for neglecting divination spells, but I have always found them a mixed bag. In any case, I think the fiery doom is rather obvious, it refers to a powerful efreeti or other related creature left here in town to keep it under Jhavhul. It could refer to Jhavul himself when we move on from Kelmarane, but I doubt it as Varkata was asking about our opponents here in Kelmarane. Iron Monks is a more difficult reference, but many iron base foes, such as constructs or iron related elementals are vulnerable to electricity. I will save my spell from Gen for such an eventuality. Perhaps it might be a religious reference though? Rovagug's spawn are infamously varied, but they are typically aligned with the forces of evil and chaos. Perhaps Varkata could pray for spells effective against such creatures."
Iron monks might be a reference to something historical?
KNOWLEDGE HISTORY CHECK:1d20 + 10 ⇒ (13) + 10 = 23(1 rank, +3 class skill, +6 Int)
Having finished tending their flock of one and prepared your breakfast Hadar and Hadra listen attentively. "Great lords, the Iron Monk now rules Kelmarane from the Brass Tower," says Hadar.
Hadra elaborates, "The devils left him in charge when they went to the mountains."
"Though one devil stayed behind to help him," finishes Hadar
Kzrira's eyes narrow to a slit, whether it is a beam of sunlight poking through a window in the building, or her attempt at deep thought, is hard to discern.
Do you know anything of this Iron Monk? And, you say one of the efreet stayed behind?
She looks to the others:
I would prefer picking them off one by one. Seems that the efreet lord does not understand the benefit of marshaling one's forces. I think we go in and find out what this menace is up to, and then we fill him full of arrows.
Varkata shrugs, "Leaving one behind is more of a reminder than an actual tactical decision. Besides which, a single efreet is more than enough to put down most resistance. The question is whether this was a tactical decision or an arrogant one -- and as much as I'd prefer it be arrogance, I'm not willing to risk my life on it. At least not yet."
Nefeshti appears stepping out of the campfire. "Jhavhul does not care about Kelmarane. He has left the place to the gnolls and a viceroy to keep an eye on thing it appears. His forces are concentrated at the Pale Mountain. Should he succeed at his mission, Kelmarane will be no more."
"The gnolls should be routed quickly and the captives in the Brass Tower freed ... and I sense that there is something dark at the Temple as well."
Kzrira licks her lips at the mention of gnolls.
We have become quite good at routing gnolls from this town. Each time the temple seems to be a popular place to have some vile cult of an evil deity to set up shop.
She looks to Nefeshti:
We will set the captives free and see that whatever dregs of Garund are displacing the residents, are eliminated to never be able to return.
|Amir Awad Hajjir|
Amir bows at the Peri, Indeed. If it pleases you I would like a carpet of flight. If possible, one that responds to me as second nature so that I might meet these fiends in the air and the ground in equal measure. It need not be large, in fact it it perhaps best that it is not so that I can maneuver as necessary. I have heard of such things and I hope it is an appropriate request... Amir bows again.
|Karethas ibn Faradin|
Karethas bows to Nefeshti with a flourish, "Mullah, with your permission, I believe it is wise to bolster my ability to control my spells in difficult situations such as the wish warp under the Pale Mountain."
The ascended Djinni smiles at Amir. "A wise decision. Both Efreet and Jann can fly and would have a great advantage if you could not. Amin."
To Karethas she replies, "I believe that you already have skill beyond your years, but a stronger connection to magic will serve you well in the wishwarp. Amin.
Karethas suddenly feels more in touch with the magical forces than ever before and a wonderfully brilliant carpet appears floating knee level next to Amir. It is finely woven with thread of pure white, glittering gold and deepest red in fantastical patterns. The five by ten foot rug looks as if two could sit or stand upon it quite comfortably.