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Once the young wizard is alone again, he quickly falls asleep to find Gen looking at him in reproach. Oddly, they are standing in a forest of dead trees. "That is correct Master, I can still enter your dreams and I disapprove. How can you trust these people? They are not what they seem. And how that, that Dilix spoke of Andrathi! She cannot be trusted! I will let you rest now. I'm sure you need it," she adds snarkily. "Mark my words though, Master,"
You dream that you are walking in a forest of dead trees.. You are looking for something important, but you can't remember what. Then you spot something small moving through the trees. Youradiance and find a feral cat running away through a graveyard. It comes to a mausoleum and runs up the stairs to the great bronze doors. You see that the doors are closed, but there is a human silhouette burned upon them. The cat starts howling and you awake suddenly with that piercing and mournful sound in your head.
No beings can be called in or out of Kakishon. It wouldn't be much of a trap if they could.
You don't recall much of your dreams, but you were looking for something important and the words 'Isle of the Dead' come to mind then fade with whatever the dream was.
You dream that you are walkinOrestes forest of dead trees with Varkata. You are looking for something important, but you can't remember what. Then you spot something small moving through the trees. You race after it leaving Varkata behind. It is a feral cat running away through a graveyard. It comes to a mausoleum and runs up the stairs to the great bronze doors. You see that the doors are closed, but there is a human silhouette burned upon them. The cat starts howling and you awake suddenly with that piercing and mournful sound in you head.
Still need the boys.
Karethas ibn Faradin wrote:
Not to steal from Shiek's response, but I think we were all thinking it. :-)
Dilix shakes her head at Amir's question. "I am no wizard, but all the elementals that you see here were bound long before Andrathi sundered Kakishon from the rest of the cosmos. No summoning will work. Your arrival and the efreet's departure is the only time the trap has been breached to my knowledge."
"I will leave you to your pleasures now. I apologize for the poor quality of our spirits, but do try to enjoy yourselves. Do not tarry too long however, for Obherak will certainly not be long in his attack on the palace.
"This is only hearsay, Dilix disclaims, "but the Island of Khosravi was where Nex tested his war machines. There are still things there that might prove dangerous. The Spire itself is said be made of some strange element that quells magic. Nex used the top of the Black Spire to entreat with enemy wizards and not have to fear magical treachery. I have heard that crystals found at the top have properties of use to the smith.
Dilix shrugs, " There is no necessity in going there, but if you can impress the master smith, it could certainly be worth the trip.
Dillix repeats to make herself clear. " I do not see that Obherak will be a challenge for you, but if you have the doubts that you expressed, then perhaps Artel Norrin, a great smith that served Nex himself would forge you a weapon. He spends all his time forging, melting down and reforging legendary weapons to try his skill. I suspect he has little interest in traveling to the Spire though it is not far from the volcano where he toils.
I am merely repeating what I have heard about the strange material of the Spire. It was used by Nex himself to destroy a plane devouring monster sent against by his enemies. It is unique and might prove novel to the master smith and put him in a cooperative mood. He can be difficult to deal with though his skill is undeniable."
Dilix nods smiling. "I see that you know something of geniekind. No, Oberakh is not a pasha. No pasha would deign serve a mortal even a mortal risen to such power as the great Nex."
"Nevertheless, he is arrogant and will not relinquish the artifact to anyone that he counts a future subject. He is powerful, but you have defeated the Golden Ram! Still, there is one that could provide you with even more powerful weapons. There is a smith on the island of the Black Spire whose skill is legendary. He might forge you a wondrous weapon for a worthy gift in exchange. It is rumored that he covets shards from the Black Spire itself to try on his forge."
"The way in remains open for those who hold and understand the Scroll, but Andrathi made it a one-way portal. Before, you had only to walk to the end of a pier and wish yourself out. Now... even Andrathi could not escape his trap."
"There is a chance though. On the island of Khandelwal, there is a shaitan, an earth genie, named Obherak. He is ambitious and cruel. Once he served in this palace, but his fear of Jhavhul was greater than his ambition. Now that the efreet are gone, he will try and take back the palace to make himself a tyrant king."
"I believe he holds an artifact from the time when Nex first bound the wild beings that created this place. He would never allow anyone to use it, but if he were killed and the artifact recovered, I could use it to help you escape."
"Why, yes! He is solely to blame for turning our palace into a prison" the majordomo says heatedly. "But he paid a great price for his insolence. He had not mastered the scroll and underestimated its power. When he stole into Jhavhul's camp and tore open the portal, he was caught in the vortex as well!"
"He avoided Jhavhul for some time before the efreeti finally found and killed him."
You sense a twitch of anger from the genie within your staff and then sorrow.
Future plans give way to immediate needs and you follow Auroz and Neshari to the banquet hall where your host awaits. Now a half dozen male and two female servers dressed alike in maroon tunics and turbans and loose black pants bring out plates of every dish that you could want. Beer and wine are plentiful and Arouz and Neshari are joined by two more women and another man to dance and sing to a ghostly accompaniment along with other entertainments.
Finally, you take your fill and Dilix invites you to a more comfortable chamber where you can talk while the servers clear the table. You are offered tobacco or pesh or spiced wine as a digestif as you recline and your host takes your questions.
"Certainly, brave champions! Your servants will guide you to your quarters and be at your beck and call. Your every wish is our greatest desire to fulfill. When you are ready, the feast will be begin." Dilix sends you on your way with Auroz and Neshari.
You have a pair of spacious joined rooms with baths warmed or cooled to taste by servant elementals. Your two servants stand by to provide whatever is asked of them.
Karethas ibn Faradin wrote:
" Has this caused his staff any undo hardships?"
Neshari looks thoughtful as if plumbing the limits of her philosophical depths. "Life can have inconveniences, but we chose to focus on its more pleasurable aspects," she replies giving the young wizards a harming smile. If there is more to her than a simple pleasure slave, Varkata cannot detect it.
Auroz returns in time with another lovely woman, this time more formally arrayed in fine clothing and jewelry. She is assisted by a pair of tall exotic looking males.
"Greetings Heroes! Many welcomes to Kakishon. Surely you are brave and powerful to defeat the Golden Ram. I am Dilix and on behalf of our long disappeared master, I welcome you and proclaim a magnificent feast be held in your honor this very night!"
Varkata Steeleye wrote:
Varkata shrugs, then smiles, "Aren't we always nice? Especially if they have ale?"
"Oh, I hope so," smiles Auroz as he offers the priestess an arm. "I'm sure we can provide some ale and anything else you might desire..." Neshari leads the way up the marble stairs offering a lovely view of her full swaying hips.
There are other wonders to be seen as you ascend to the palace. Small water elementals water the blooming riot of plants, while their air brethren pluck high fruits. Even earth elementals haul heavy loads up the slope and a couple of fire elementals burn trash and dry the water splashed upon the stairs.
Finally, you reach the ornate plaza before the palace which features an open colonnade. The pillars are topped with carved griffons and shedu planters, wings outstretched to form arches and plants and vines providing cool shade to the stone. Long, narrow pools teem with brightly colored fish and water-lotus, while fountains of carved stone and polished brass tinkle pleasantly and songbirds trill in the hanging gardens above.
You are led through the heavy brazen gates of the palace, each marked with Nex’s symbol and a relief of the archwizard himself with arms outstretched in welcome and into the foyer of the great hall, which seems oddly barren. Auroz goes ahead to announce you to Dilix leaving you in the capable hands of Neshari.
yeah, we should clarify who is holding the horns.
The horn is sounded and a splendid fanfare arises from the nearby marble pavilion. Neshari claps excitedly. A moment later a small air elements flies down from the palace and presents her with a papyrus scroll sealed with golden wax.
Neshari genuflects slow and low before Amir gazing up at him with big soft eyes that compete with her ample cleavage from this angle. Then she hands him the scroll with a wink and steps back to Auroz's side.
The scroll reads as follows:
Greetings to you, most honored guest! Please allow my servants to escort you to the Grand Hall, where I shall wait to greet you and your companions. – Dilix Mahad, Major Domo of Kakishon.
Auroz laughs and shrugs, "Sorry, no business here. Pleasure is quite a different matter, however." He smiles invitingly at Varkata. He seems quite mortal to the libertine priest.
Neshari looks at Karethas with interest. "You have come from the Serpent Isles? Do you have the horn of the Golden Ram?" she asks excitedly. "Please, blow it for us or I could blow it if you like... I have some talent in that area," she adds with a playful little smile.
The marvelous animated ship clears the bay turning southward into a channel that lies between two discordant mountainous shores. To the east, a verdant jungle skirts the rocky peaks of sun drenched mountains and to the west, a seemingly impossible frozen mount glistening with new snow down to its shores. Finally, it pulls up to a welcoming harbor on the eastern coast furnished with a half-dozen docks and animate ships sitting at the ready.
A welcoming hostel awaits at the harborside, but your eyes are immediately drawn up a winding road paved with bricks of polished white marble, flanked by manicured and artfully shaped topiary. Arbors of brass bedecked with hanging grapevines perfume the air with their sweetness and shade the path as it wends its way up the garden slope towards a magnificent palace of white and gold that overlooks the harbor. The legendary Pleasure Palace of Kakishon lies before you.
As the golden galley coasts into dock, two scantily clad servants, one male, one female, emerge from the hostel and wave.
again, don't give me any ideas!
Karethas is probably correct on the time of arrival as usual so you settle in for the journey. Kzrira at the bow keeps a close look out and Karethas begins a full investigation of the mythic magics used to create the living ship and golem-like Helmsman. At least until he is disturbed by Gen's giggling from the prow as she swoops back forth through the spray occassionally sending a splash of water at the face of the archer on watch.
Amir and Varkata find something to occupy themselves. I'd recommend gambling as Varkata can only profit from Amir's legendary bad luck with dice...
One year since I last posted here and we're finally into book 4! It seems we're only the second group to get this far on the PbP boards and prob only one using the Director's cut. Just leaving the Serpent Isles and the additional material was useful.
started in the lagoon and had party swimming for their lives to get AWAY from the hydra; Bloodhunter gnolls were great and provided something of a challenge for the OP gnoll hunter ranger; hydra larvae swarm was a little too much, but reskinned rot grub hazard for similar thrills
I've moved the proteans more into the background as shadowy watchers and I'm looking forward to how the encounter with Dilix will go.
Amir Awad Hajjir wrote:
At Kzrira's comment Amir merely snorts as he looks about. Once they are safely aboard the rogue looks over at Karethas and Gen, Will the boat know to leave or do we need to sound the horn again?
The little genie shrugs. "Only one way to find out." She flits over to hover in front of the brass ram's head. "Take us to the Palace!" she commands. The great head nods and as if by some silent command, the oars extend on their own. They sweep forward moving the ship back from the dock and then reverse to kill the momentum and pull forward as the Helmsman makes a hard turn. In moments, the figurehead is aimed out of the bay and the living ship churns through the water faster than most ships could sail.
"Thank you, Master. I'll choose to ignore "The Bow"'s ignorance. I actually have not been to Kakishon before, but I listened closely to Andrathi. I do not think we have anything to fear. The Nexian Helmsman would not allow anyone to take the Galley."
With a running leap, Amir vaults from the end of the blasted pier to the boat about ten feet off. Once aboard he sees no one except the minotaur -like brass statue that steers the ship. It makes no move as he peers around.
don't give me any ideas...
As the great golden galley finally draws near, the sweeping oars back stroke to slow her speedy progress and then are drawn into the ship as it drifts to the pier. It stops just beyond the burned and blasted end waiting.
All that can be seen aboard is a great ram headed figure of bronze at the tiller.
The others recognize the spidery bestial themes remnant on the corroded armor as similar to those found in the House of the Beast. By the look of it, the savage gnolls were marooned here a long, long time. They have nothing of significant value left- a strong bow, corroded armor and rusty great axes.
There is a golden glint off the coast which grows as search your victims for anything of value. It grows over the hour until you can make out a golden galley quickly and steadily rowing toward you.
Kzrira keeps firing arrows of various makes at the huge monster. The metal of the arrows don't seem to make any difference, but the sheer number eventually overcomes the mortally wounded hydra. With a quiver, the heads drop to the sandy beach. Amir and Varkata act quickly to sever the heads and it finally appears dead for good.
Varkata Steeleye wrote:
Kzrira keeps firing arrow after arrow at the beast, but the piercing wounds heal incredibly quickly. Amir seriously reconsiders his charge amidst the serpent heads and feints as if his life depended on it. Though low intelligence creatures are often resistant to such tactics, the flashing blades at least distract the half-dozen heads enough that Amir is able to stab deeply into the resistant hide. He shifts back where Varkata can reach him and with a touch remedy some of his wounds.
Karethas continues circling above and blasts it with shards of force. The great beast shudders and the long flailing necks droop a moment before its legendary vitality rouses it again. It looks truly battered, but healing quickly as the heads encircle Amir again. He's bitten by the two swiftest heads. Amir-8, 5 bite
Round 6 cont.
Amir throws himself at the many-headed menace seeking to follow Karethas' advice. It is close-in fighting though with giant serpent heads weaving about him and he only gets two thrusts into the massive body. The wounds begin to close when a bolt of lightning strikes the mass with a flash. The great hydra is nimble though and twists aside from a direct hit though the jagged burned area seems slower to heal.
Varkata steps away and channels a healing draught to mend her allies. The last gnoll standing fires a half-hearted parting shot at Kzrira and retreats into the tall grass. The hydra turns its attention on the lively prey in its midst. At least, all but the two heads fighting over another gnoll corpse. Amir suffers three more bites from the writhing heads. Amir-11, 4, 7 bite
Kzrira races away from the hydra to pointblank range with the two remaining archers that keep firing at her. The wounded one misses his target by a wide margin as he falters, but the other hits his enemy with an arrow that sticks in her leg. Kzrira- 11 pierce
Karethas drops a cloud of golden dust on the terrible hydra, but there are just too many eyes and it continues forward, undulating its huge bulk over the sand and into the melee. Varkata gets in another slash, but the bleeding gnoll seems to only get more frenzied and reciprocates with the aged great axe. Varkata-12 slash
It is the last time that gnoll will wield a great axe however, when giant jaws close on him and greedily swallow him whole before the other heads can get a taste. Another head snaps at Varkata, long narrow teeth grate off her armor. Amir is not so lucky and suffers a grazing bite before he clears the fallen gnoll. Amir-6 bite
A gnoll falls under a hail of Kzrira's arrows. Amir charges! catching himself before he drops to all fours out of recent habit.
The injured gnoll drops his bow and frothing at the lips, switches to a rather ragged great axe hitting the old rogue. Amir-8 slash. Another joins the melee, but misses Varkata. The three others keep firing on Kzrira. Only one lucky, but dangerous shot pierces her defenses. Kzrira-27 crit pierce
Karethas' familiar shrugs. "I am sorry. I do not know, Master. Surely, not too long."
Kzrira knows the smelly curs only too well and soon spots a hunting pack of gnolls crouching in the tall grass of the nearby dunes while you wait.
Amir 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
Karethas 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (18) + 6 = 24
Kzrira 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14
Varkata 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3
foe 1d20 ⇒ 18
en just rolls her eyes at all the ridiculous talk of stairways and swimming. She addresses Karethas. "It will summon a golden galley to carry us to the main island. Tell her to blow it."
Kzrira does so and there comes an echo moments later, far distant and barely heard over the surf. Then nothing more.