Monthly Archives: June 2011

SOW Chapter9: Bitter Glass – Conclusion

Bitter Glass – Conclusion

Bitter Glass shattered
Githyanki revealed at last

Coalition saved

Bitter Glass – Conclusion

“Maybe I should write a book,” suggests Bairdyn in a private conversation with his friend Bennie.

“I didn’t know you could read, let alone write,” answers Bennie intending no insult.

“Think about where we are going to tea at some githyanki’s mansion having just met with more than a handful of world leaders. And if we hadn’t grabbed some shuteye this than we would be zombies just like the others. I don’t think Vani has slept a wink in three days. That’s just crazy. Here we were in Overlook and some flying ship almost crashing into the city. We’ve fought dragons, an invading army. We’ve flown a ship, destroyed a ship and we crashed our ship. We fought giants, assassins and a bunch of beggars, its nuts I tell you. And now were like the most important people in the world, who’d of thunk it?” asks Bairdyn.

The Tea Party

Tea Party

They walked into one of the most magnificent homes they’d ever seen. Ornate stained glass fills every window, and expensive furnishings decorated every space.

The lord of the house—the githyanki Telicanthus—was there to greet them, hands outstretched.

“Welcome to my humble home! Please, feel free to enjoy the house; and please take a moment to introduce yourselves to my other guests.”

For his invitation to tea, Telicanthus sends a carriage to pick up the heroes at their inn in the early afternoon, just after their meeting with the Coalition ends. The carriage arrives at Telicanthus’s mansion on Prospect Hill at exactly the proper time. The new arrivals to the party include, Bairdyn, Bhenedict, Bingus, Eoffram, Ian and Vani. Those already in attendance included their friends, Rikar and Finellior and a number of other important looking people, soon known and others not. Telicanthus himself comes out to warmly greet his guests. To the heroes it is obvious that he notices their weapons, the githyanki appears a bit surprised, but he is too polite to make mention of the weapons. Telicanthus invites the heroes into his home and ushers them into the tea room, where he introduces them to the other guests. Lady Torrance

Lord Divian TorranceGovernor Torrance and Lady Catherine Torrance (Lord Torrance’s wife): The Governor acknowledges the arrival of the heroes with a knowing glance. Almost immediately engages with Telicanthus deflecting the githyanki’s attention from the new arrivals. The Governor, approaches and says, “You should really take the opportunity to look about the place, it is truly remarkable what Telicanthus has done with it.“

General Alvro Taramin (Commander of the city guard): Taramin is a tiefling soldier who is keenly interested in the security of Sayre. He is consistently concerned that he doesn’t have enough troops under his direct command to protect the city. He is quick to suggest a private meeting with the heroes to discuss the tactics that were used at Overlook and Akma’ad. Eoffram comes upon the General standing alone in the portrait gallery, casually examining Telicanthus’s family tree. After a brief bout of meaningless small talk, Eoffram learns that General Taramin was asked, as a personal favor, to leave his watch patrols away from the mansion, since their presence was “a distraction to Telicanthus work.”General AlvroArchdean Isabella Grimaldi

 

Archdean Isabelle Grimaldi (Archdean of the Sayre University): The archdean of the university is a middle-aged, very attractive half-elf woman with a keen mind for magical research. She’s appears a bit distracted when it comes to small talk, and she tends to turn conversations toward subjects that she is more familiar with. That means that any conversation with her tends to turn towards monster dissection and alchemical theory. She’s not shy about being single, and her tone is assertive and direct. She is clearly impressed by the new war heroes.

Bingus walks in on a heated conversion between the Archdean and Telicanthus. As she sees Bingus her mood changes as she her attention turns away from their host to Bingus. Bingus is soon impresses with the stature of both her mind and body and it is equally clear that she find the breath of Bingus’s knowledge and experience fascinating. After too brief a conversation they agree to meet again soon at the university.

Arryk the BlackArryk the Black: The retired human adventurer had kept his riches even as the years have weakened his combat prowess. Now in his fifties and separated from his true home at Vraath Keep he had already purchased the smaller and less elaborate home next door planning to keep his eye on Telicanthus. At the tea party he was happily regaling his listeners with astonishing tales of his youth. Arryk was still a little worse for the hardships he had endured, Arryk moves with a pronounced Map: Telicanthus Manorlimp and he used a cane when he walked to help with his crippled leg.

Over the course of the event the heroes use the time as the Governor had suggested to search the estate.

Telicanthus’s home is beautiful. It is tastefully decorated with the finest art that comes out of Sayre’s robust artistic community. Paintings of local nature and city scenes hang on the walls next to beautiful tapestries; his porcelain and dishware are exquisitely crafted, and his food the finest available. Superb stained glass fills many of his windows, most of which he modestly claims that he crafted himself. Exceptionally talented musicians behind screens play light background music that invariably delights guests. Even the air smells nice, scented by exotic perfumes.

Wandering the ground Bairdyn discovers two locked doors. Determined to enter he begins to work on the locks. Both doors are located off a very long, busy hallway located behind the great domed main hall. Bairdyn conspires with Vani and Rikar recruiting theri aid while Bairdyn engages with the lock.

This leads to a brief confrontation between Vani and Telicanthus’s secretary Pennel. Approaching Vani, obviously very aware … not unlike a parent catching a child red-handed, Pennel asks, “What are you doing?”

PennelTaken aback by he secretary’s tone Vani attempts to deflect suspicion saying, “I am just taking in this beautiful estate.” While clearly attempting to block Pennel’s progress through the hallway. Not buying it, Pennel ‘orders’, “Get out of my way!”

Frantic, Vani resists refusing to move. Without hesitation, Pennel reacts. Bringing his hand forward from behind his back, the secretary reveals a crystal within his grip. Light explodes from the crystal and Vani vanishes reappearing further down the hall. Feeling sluggish from the effects of the crystal, Vani tries to move forward but he finds himself incapable of moving fast enough to intercept the secretary who rushes to the door of his office, the very room the heroes had been examining.

Bairdyn and Rikar were no longer in the hallway, but when Pennel grabs the door he finds in unlocked. Sparing a sneer at Vani he flings open the door his crystal, (a dagger?, Vani wonders), held high. Pennel glares into the room as if about to shout ‘ah ha’ but then notably relaxes, lowering the crystal dagger he closes the door. Then removing a key from a coat pocket, Pennel locks the door and turning his attention back to Vani, he bows and apologizing profusely.

“I am sorry master, I was mistaken … one of the staff had made mention that she had seen a halfling breaking in to my office. There is no excuse for my offense clearly I failed to lock the door.”

Pennel bows, turns and leaves the way he came.

Within the office, Rikar takes a breath opens his cloak, the Feytouched armored cloak had successfully concealed both himself and Bairdyn who Rikar had wrapped within its folds veiling them both in invisibility.

“Go see to the other room, I will search this one. And be sure to lock the door behind yourself; it is of no concern to me,” offers Rikar.

Given the experience of the previous room, Bairdyn seeks out Bhenedict before heading on to the second locked door. As they move together down the long hall Bennie pauses.

“Wait, a gosh darn minute. Did ye feel that?” asks Bennie.

“What are you talking about?” asks Bairdyn.

“The floor feels extra creaky, something is happening with the foundation here or I’m not a dwarf,” points out Bennie.

“Hmm, that sounds suspicious to me,” comments the halfling.

Bairdyn quickly unlocks the door and the two friend slip in. Bairdyn taking efforts to relock the door behind them this time. They enter into Telicanthus’s office and sitting room. The windows are yellow stained glass that let in the sun, and his wide desk is clear of most paper. On his desk is a large journal detailing his guest list for the party. Other papers include designs for stained glass projects. A small tray on his desk holds attractive shards of stained glass, a display of some sort.

Almost immediately Bennie exclaims, “Ha, just like I thought, this room is off … It is narrower than it should be, look at it … Its obvious.”

Back in Pennel’s office Rikar searched. Finding a journal on the secretary’s desk the drow shuffled through the pages which revealed that the estate was burning through a truly impressive amount of money each month. Telicanthus seems to be paying for substantially more food than his household staff could possibly require, even taking into account the parties he threw. Roughly, Rikar guessed that it would be enough for an additional 15–20 people everyday. Searching further, Rikar finds an additional key in the top drawer of Pennel’s desk, a second key for the office door.

In Telicanthus’s office, Bairdyn had begun pacing off the room and with Bennie’s help he discovers a secret door hidden behind a full length mirror attached to the south wall. Try as in might, the halfling couldn’t figure out how to open the secret door so he sends Bennie to gather the others.

Bennie finds Rikar and Vani right away, seeing that the drow was uncharacteristically excited, he tells him to go to Telicanthus’s office with Vani asking both of them to wait the office with Bairdyn. Bennie moves on through the great hall, the domed room is a full 90 feet across, and it has a balcony circling it 20 feet off the ground. The floor is covered in beautiful, polished marble tiles, the walls are covered with beautiful paintings and statues ring the room. Continuing on his way, Bennie encounters Ian within the tea room. The area where Telicanthus takes tea looks out onto well tended gardens and features a table large enough to sit several of the guests, including Ian who excuses himself and rises.

Ian approaches Bennies whispering, “I know what’s up, you will find Eoffram within the gallery, gather him I will get Bingus.” Ian points out a door exiting the tea room.

Then address Telicanthus and the others seated at the table Ian offers, “Our friend Bingus seemed quite taken by the Archdean.”

Turning to Fin, he adds, “Finellior, I always wanted to properly debate a few issues with you and our wizard friend, would you care to join me in the library, I quite sure the Isabelle could use a break by now.” explaining that, the three heroes discreetly exit, Bennie entering the gallery and the others moving through the parlor.

When Bennie enters the portrait gallery he sees it is an odd-shaped room that shares walls with both the great hall and the parlor. The gallery was also positioned well to enjoy the music provided by the players who were utilizing the parlor. Ostensibly the gallery had portraits of several generations of Telicanthus’s family, both males and females, relatives of all ages. Within the gallery, Bennie finds Eoffram. After briefly outlaying the plan he and the councilor move back through the tea room, chuckling and making small talk about the experience with the fekk to distract from their true purpose as the make their way to Telicanthus’s office.

Within the library Ian and Fin find Bingus engaged with the Archdean in a serious intellectual debate. Later, the joke would be about of all the things Bingus might have choose to engage in with the beautiful dean, Bingus had picked the hideous Stone-skinned King. At the moment the difficulty was just getting Bingus away from the university’s attractive dean. Fin whispered, “It looks like a bait and switch is called for, I will keep the dean occupied, you and Bingus get about to whatever you need to do.”

When Bhenedict finally gets Bingus to Telicanthus’s office he finds that Vani had figured out how to operate the secret door. Vani explained that the mirror was magical, and it could be opened by touching it with one of the stained glass shards that were set on Telicanthus‘s desk. Once triggered, the mirror became fully permeable allowing passage beyond.

Entering the secret door the party follows Rikar through a narrow corridor is hidden between the walls accessible only from Telicanthus’s office. This narrow hallway is less than 5 feet wide. The hallway is short, just 20 feet, and it ends in a hole where a ladder led to deeper darkness. Rikar descends and the ladder end in a downward-sloping tunnel that runs relatively straight from the ladder in a tunnel carved from the earth. The tunnel was reinforced with wooden crossbeams, and opened into the actual excavations below the mansion. The ceiling height was is only 5 feet. Map: Upper Level 

Rikar moves ahead alone utilizing only the light that was already there. He moves past a side tunnel the randomly ended in a dead-end before continuing to a wider area moving over loose dirt and the remains of broken tools.

Firelight plays across the rough dirt and stone excavation. The drow hears the faint sounds of breathing. The narrow tunnels open up into the larger intersection where Rikar sees several shapes in the near darkness.

Rikar quietly pads his way back to the party announcing that he had found several githyanki sleeping in the halls beyond, he had counted four. Quickly they organize a plan and Rikar sneaks back with his urgrosh raised high and he attacks. The githyanki wakes and rolls drawing only a light wound while shouting out an alarm and hurls himself into the drow. Vani attacks blasting the intersection but the these githyanki are well-trained and they dive for cover; Rikar absorbs the brunt of the halflings attack along with his opponent but the battle quickly turns against the drow. The other githyanki grab their weapons and attack before anyone can come to Rikar’s aid. The drop the drow warrior in seconds. Bairdyn rushes into to help with Ian but they find themselves outnumbered better than two to one when a fifth githyanki appear from one of the other passages. Psychic energy explodes within the intersection throwing Ian and Bairdyn to the ground and their mind’s are crushed by the fifth githyanki’s attack. Then suddenly Bennie appears in their midst challenging the githyanki to face him.

“Drop yer rusted garbage and die ye pee soaked rotatin’ arse-kissin ‘ washoons. Come orer here and get yerselves a piece!”

The githyanki respond but try as the might they can’t get past the angry dwarf who stands protectively over the hobbit bashing any githyanki that comes near.

Ian drags the fallen drow administering a magical potion of vitality which wakes and heals the drow. Thanks in large part to Bhenedict’s heroism the heroes collect themselves renewing their assault first with well the placed spells of Bingus, Eoffram and Vani, then with the hand-to-hand melee attacks of Ian, Rikar and Bairdyn. Bhenedict never giving an inch to the githyanki warriors but before the heroes can finish with the first group, they become aware of a second group of githyanki further down the tunnels. The second group is better prepared and fully armored. The battle is furious. Never had the heroes faced a squad of githyanki as highly trained and disciplined as the groups within these tunnels. Organized and seeking cover in the side passages the heroes blast ahead forces the githyanki to retreat in the face of their magical assault which the githyanki counter with their own psychic assaults. Eventually the spell casters gain the upper hand and the group pushes forward until they come to a large cavern within which they see the remains of a wizard’s tower, blackened and broken by ancient dragonfire. The tower dominates the cave. The entry tunnel ceiling arches to over 15 feet high in this area. Piles of dirt and stone litter the area, making travel difficult. The cavern is lit by a small fire, where the githyanki had a makeshift camp. The tower is obviously ancient and battered, its broken top extends to the ceiling of the cavern and beyond, badly scared by centuries of abuse. The walls and floor of the cavern are dirt. As the heroes drive back the githyanki, the oldest among them retreats into the damaged tower closing the door behind him. Map: Descent

After carefully opening the secured door. The heroes find the ground floor of the tower seems to have originally been one solid piece of stone but it had evidently fell as a solid piece settling in a slant in the basement when the tower was destroyed with Whitestone. The githyanki has creating a makeshift ramp that now angled downward crossing the chasm. The ramp ends in another large cavern

The heroes descend carefully. Rikar again taking lead, followed by all the others but Rikar is the first to pass over the chasm on narrow ramp. The crevice is 30 feet deep, its bottom is filled with rubble. In the cavern beyond they witness a bizarre display.

The cavern beyond the ramp contains a great sphere of glass exactly 30 feet in diameter. Clearly it had recently been patched and repaired from an older, more beautiful, version of the device. It is made of stained glass the color of the evening sky, and in entire it glowed, with brighter lights flickering from within. At axis point stairs rose along either side.

In front of the sphere an area was set-up as Telicanthus’s secret workshop for creating magical stained glass. A place to construct the communication devices utilized throughout the world after the devices where attuned within the Bitter Glass.Map: Bitter Glass 

Rikar moved forward with Vani seeking shelter besides Telicanthus’s forge. There delicate, beautiful panes of glass were stacked. The furnace itself was magical, the device generated an intense, smokeless flame. Hidden behind the furnace the two advancing heroes could hear the faint chanting of githyanki located within the Bitter Glass.

The Bitter GlassAlerted by the elder githyanki, Kle’th the mindslicer sage who had escaped the earlier encounter. Kle’th had also been the githyanki who had located the Bitter Glass. Kle’th had led the githyanki team who had excavated and reconstructed the ancient device using Ishtar’s ancient notes on the Dark Lens. Kle’th did not share the same warrior’s mindset that most of the githyanki had. He was a scholar at heart and would have preferred to be in an astral library rather than these dark tunnels. Having detected the invading heroes three of githyanki move along a barely visible 10-foot wide, 30-long glass balcony that stretches across the interior axis of the Bitter Glass to the stairs that waited at either side and reaching the stairs they charge the heroes.

With the tables turned, and the githyanki being out numbered the battle is joined. Initially the fury of the githyanki attack drives the heroes back almost driving Rikar and Vani into the chasm but Bhenedict responds grabbing one the githyanki and hurling him through the air breaking their line. Halfway to the Bitter Glass Bennies progress is again halted. Ian joins the dwarf with Rikar each of facing-off with a single githyanki warrior. Kle’th backed up the githyanki with psionic attacks but he was in turn engaged by Eoffram in a duel of magic verses psionic warfare. Leaving both Vani and Bingus free to approach the Bitter Glass from either end.

As the magic users approached the glass, doors revealed the glass fading away as they touched it. At either side they looked into the sphere which was full of blue light. A solitary githyanki remained standing on a narrow glass bridge. He looked at the heroes but he continued chanting obviously performing a ritual; his voices echoing strangely in the space. Psychic energy courses up and down the walls of the sphere. Without waiting Vani attacks interrupting the ritual. As the githyanki is forced to cease the ritual, a babbling backlash of psychic energy attacks everyone within the cavern; their minds, erupt in an blinding intense pain that dazes everyone throughout the cavern. In the city of Sayre beyond the strong suffer headaches, the infirm collapse and babies howl. Everywhere the people become aware that something is wrong. Telicanthus more than anyone knows what has happened, as others wonder he calls Pennel to him and uncharacteristically begins ordering everyone out of the mansion.

Being better prepared for the psychic assault of the Bitter Glass the githyanki in the cavern rally and renew their attacks even as the whine of the Bitter Glass intensifies. Blue lightning plays across the surface of the sphere. Inside Vani participates in a life and death struggle but never doubts himself or his friend Bingus. Bingus studies the glass both fascinated and alarmed, he steps within the ritual circle constructed in the central axis of the sphere and focusing he tries to suppresses the energy playing across the exterior of the globe. Immediately the energy starts feeding into the gnome and simultaneously he becomes aware of different minds and conversations taking place all over the world, and even into the planes beyond. Sorting through the voices, Bingus wrestles to identify any one of them keying on to anything vaguely familiar. First, he finds his enemy, the Stone-skinned King, and then the dwarf merchant, Bram. Another wave of energy bursts from the Bitter Glass, larger and more powerful than the first. Vani yells desperately, “Focus, Bingus … You can do this!”

Finding himself, Bingus mentally shuts-down the voices concentrating on the Bitter Glass itself. Beyond his focus, Vani summons a powerful burst of thunder and lightning hurling his githyanki opponent from the glass and sending of force that develops fissures within the glass skin of the globe.

“That’s it!” yells Bingus. “You need to destroy the sphere, I won’t be able to control it indefinitely. Hit it with everything you’ve got!”  

Outside the Bhenedict, Ian and Rikar find themselves standing victorious over the dead githyanki. They attack the Bitter Glass from outside, but there attacks do nothing to the artifact which responds with a backlash of energy that knock them to the floor stunning them. In the mansion above Lord Torrance seizes the moment telling the General to arrest Telicanthus. The General as moves in Pennel intercepts him preventing any assault upon Telicanthus. Telicanthus sneers and moves toward the Governor with ill intent when out of nowhere Arryk is there and he hurls the githyanki noble to the ground.

Within the sphere Vani’s assault upon the sphere continues, the halfling unleashing immense energy blasting at the both the githyanki and the sphere. Almost immediately the mindslicer in consumed. Beads of sweat bead on Bingus’s brow as he contains the incredible energy of the sphere fulfilling the role he was born for and bearing witness to Vani’s ecstasy of destruction. In the end, the two spell casters are to much for the Bitter Glass and it explodes shattering into countless shards dropping the two smallest spell casters to the earthen ground 15 feet below.

When the heroes emerge from the tunnels they find that Telicanthus has escaped and that he is on the run. Lord Torrance explores the ruins of the Bitter Glass and he reveals that Telicanthus was actually a spy. In a few days, as the truth spreads the locals begin to realized the extent of the githyanki’s deceits especially upon the githzerai. The city of Sayre becomes more accepting and tolerant. Governor Torrance seizes ownership of Telicanthus’s mansion and everything in it for the city, and offers its use to Odos and the githzerai.

General Alvro immediately increases the city guard and begins planning for various contingencies. In addition, with the githyanki invaders reeling from the loss of their communication web, the Seven Platinum Shields act quickly and turns to their prime sources of information—Amyria, the seven leader and the adventurers—for input on their next course of action. Of course, Amyria has a plan she has been working on with Fariex, a plan that requires the active participation of the heroes . . .


SOW Chapter9: Bitter Glass: The Coalition

Bitter Glass to come
Githyanki plot in motion
Coalition formed

Bitter Glass – The Coalition

AmyriaAmyria appear flawless and beautiful in the early air of morning at the River Jewel. She arrived planning to meet with and prepare the Heroes of the Vale for the Coalition meeting scheduled in two hours time. When she arrived she could only find Bairdyn and Bhenedict. Immediately she asked about the other heroes. “Where are Eoffram and Bingus?” she asked.

“Both missing with Ian, Fin and Vani?" explained Bairdyn. “Maybe we should go look for them.”

But then without fanfare they appeared at the door, most of them showing signs of wear, dressed in filthy, bloody clothing and armor and smelling as if they hadn’t bathed in a week. Only Bingus was relatively clean and as always he was decked out in finery; sticking near to the rear of the party during battles often kept him cleaner than the others.

“We must hurry, it would be unwise to think the members of the Coalition will not proceed without us. All the leaders will be arriving soon and we cannot afford to be late. Everything is at stake, yet be certain you must refresh yourselves first. We will go now and you must make haste and follow,” protests the deva.

“Ya, good luck with that,” offers Bennie.

“I will leave you directions and give the guards instructions to allow you all in, please hurry yourselves,” decries Amyria, "but first I must describe the participants and my goals for this meeting."

“No government will take us seriously without the Coalition’s backing. We will need their support. Such support will open doors to us, and enable us to get places and accomplish things that we just can not impact without such backing,” she begins.

Continuing she stresses, “The importance of Coalition sanctioning our activities, is that all the military and financial aid represented in that room will be vital to coordinating of any defense of the world. Without the Coalition, the githyanki will be able to continue picking off individual, strategically important cities states as they see fit, and not every region is as fortunate as Elsir Vale to have such stalwart champions willing to protect its borders.”  

“Seven candidates accepted my invitation to this gathering, they are: Kalad of the Monastery of the Sundered Chain, Fariex the Scalehammer, Trellara Nightshadow of the Stagrunners, Viscount Sidgevin of the Twilight City, Simberious Inogo the First, Deacon of Pax Tharkas, Most Exalted Odos from the House of Reprisal, and our host, Lord Divian Torrance, Governor of Sayre. In your travels you have already met several of these people. Each of them represents skills and resources critical to the success of the Coalition. Kalad in particularly has helped me determine the goals and agenda of this meeting. Unfortunately, we no longer have the luxury to discuss these leaders or agenda items here now. I had meant to tell you all about them as we traveled to the meeting hall together. As things are you will have to catch-up at the meeting. I will discuss these issues with Bingus, Bairdyn and Bhenedict in route as I had planned. It will take you about 15 minutes to walk to the meeting hall. It is to be held in the center of the city between the March and the University of Sayre in a shared facility. Please hurry.”

“Wait for me, I will join you, I can direct Ian to the meeting and fill the others in as soon at they arrive,” says an Ian phantom, as it emerges from the true Ian.

Coalition Hall

The weather is beautiful outside as Bingus, Bairdyn and Bhenedict walk over to the meeting place heading for the center of the city following Amyria. As she had stated it takes about 15 minutes for the group to reach a beautiful old building in the March. “This building was at one time used for town meetings, but that is not true any longer. I have rented it for this occasion and I hope to use as a central meeting place for our allies,” explains the deva. “As we walk let me describe those who have agreed to join as here; some of them are known to you and others are not,” adds Amyria.

Coalition Members

"Kalad who you already know has been chosen to represent Overlook’s interests specifically and dwarven interest in a larger even more significant sense. And we have Kalad’s unflinchingly support, unfortunately, his commitment to our cause has made him appear intractable to the more politically savvy members of the Coalition, and his staunch support has almost become a liability in my discussions so far. This is understandable considering that he and I developed our agenda together but it makes your words and experience all more important and weighty in today’s discussion. The agenda we discussed includes five specific items that we determined need our most immediate attention.”

  • “Transferring control of military units under command of Coalition members to the Coalition council.”
  • “Voting on a Coalition leader.”
  • “Naming the Coalition.”
  • “Determining that relevance and importance of my dream, and whether it warrants further investigation.”
  • “Convincing the Coalition to investigate and what role he is playing in the githyanki invasion. This last goal is likely the most pressing, but without Coalition support we risk of fracturing the Coalition even before it fully forms.”

“You will need to explain these goals to the others as they arrive. Now, we are almost out of time and I still need to tell you briefly about the others who have accepted the invitation to this meeting.”

“I expect you know Odos better than I, but I can tell you he remains steadfast in his belief that the githzerai should leave the mortal plane and it’s people behind. He is frustrated in the lack of support shown to the githzerai in their time of need and this feeling has only intensified since his arrival in Sayre. Odos firmly believes that Telicanthus is up to no good but the only thing he intends to deal with before departing the mortal realm and I am not confident that his methods would be acceptable to the more ‘politic‘ members of the Coalition.”

“Governor Torrance carries a great influence over the proceedings as the meeting’s chairperson and host. The Governor is a potent and skilled politician. His support will be critical to gain as it will in all likelihood determine how successful we are today. He is only likely to give over support if it is in both his own and Sayre’s best interest. Ian is the governor‘s only son is he not? Perhaps he will carry some influence with him.”  

“Yes, we are but the influence we have is not likely what you are looking for,” answers the phantom with what passes for a scowl.

“That Sidgevin fellow you mentioned, is he an elf, a badass of an elf with a worse attitude?” asks Bairdyn.

“Ye mean that potato faced, jelly-boned, butt-scratchin’ scabshyte?” asks Bennie.

“Yeah that would be the one. You’d be scratching too if you had a stick that big shoved up your ass.” answers Bairdyn.

Interrupting, Amyria says, “Please, that attitude will not serve our interests here today, Viscount Sidgevin represents more than 3000 eladrin of the Fortress of Fading Dreams and none of them are more eager for the blood outsiders than Sidgevin. We need to insure his ire is directed towards the invaders. His contempt masks a deep frustration that we may be able to turn to our advantage. Keep in mind that he favors elven interests and seeks to champion elven causes upon Klarn, this too is to our advantage.”

“Trellara is also important. She is the wild elves’ druid. In normal circumstances she is a bright-eyed and joyful, but you will note she is dressing darkly now. Her brother Lanikar was lost to the githyanki at Skull Gorge. She has accepted the loss such as the way of druids, but I can tell that she has taken his death quite hard. This is a two-edge knife because the wild elves are few in number and they are reluctant to participate in the wars of others but in Trellara we may find a willing ally … Outwardly she is calm, wise and perceptive, and she may not willingly accept her own feelings but I sense that vengeance seed lies deep within her and a willing cohort with a sympathetic ear might do much to move her in the days discussions and Trellara garners great respect from her tribe.”

“Fariex remains an enigma. I believe he wants to find allies he can trust. So far he reserves his trust for Trellara and Simberious only. They were the ones who convinced him to attend today’s meeting. He appears light-hearted by nature, and he spends his time with me telling me jokes but he is far from a buffoon. He is thought to be the wealthiest merchant on the west coast of Klarn and he maintains an alliance with the Mystic Isles. He was invited because of his connections to the Isles and many far-reaching settlements, townships, and ports, as well as the wealth and military might he represents. It is our hope that Fariex will fund the efforts of our Coalition.”

“The final attendee is Simberious, he hails from distant Pax Tharkas, the Citadel of Peace, beyond the Elsir Vale. He is the Deacon there, and a priest of Heironeous. Pax Tharkas is a theocratic city and it is the home of the High Cleric Temple. It also boasts a massive college of divinity, where worshipers of nearly any deity can openly practice their faith. As a result of its varied populace, the city’s leadership is formed of a council of priests of the most worshiped deities in the city. The council changes as the population changes. Some deities fall out of favor while others rise. But Heironeous worshipers have maintained the city for years, and Simberious is the most accomplished of these leaders. In some ways the Council of Priests has served me as a model for this Coalition bringing different people and thoughts together towards a beneficial goal but Pax Tharkas is accustomed to nearly endless debate, thanks to their efforts to accommodate every faith represented on the ruling council. As someone long schooled in this approach to government, Deacon Simberious is not apt to make the hasty decisions that are now required but he represents a powerful city, both in terms of its military and divine might and because it is the home base of the Knighthood. Pax Tharkas could field a veritable army of knights and healers, and a full mounted corps of paladins. We must have their support.”

As Amyria finishes they arrive to see General Alvro Taramin, the commander of the city guard, with a dozen elite guards cordoning off an area for several great owls, the mounts used by the wild elves, the great owls are perched near a number of knights and squires of Pax Tharkas making it clear that a number of the Coalition members had already arrived. Rushing, Amyria’s party heads-up a large marble staircase to the second floor, where Amyria opens a set of double doors entering into a circular room dominated by a large semicircular table. The room is filled with strangers of various races, all swept up in the heat of argument. They all look up when Amyria enters, and she introduces everyone to her party. The Coalition appears divided, as much or more than the githzerai had been the day before. Clearly concerned Amyria scans the assembly, beginning to look nervous as she notices that Odos is not there.

Bingus glances taking in the scene. The large lecture hall looks like it has previously been used as a place to learn about the more esoteric elements of arcane magical theory. There is a long curved table centered near the far wall of the room occupied by six of the Coalition members described by Amyria, only Odos was missing. To the rear of the chamber most of the benches that normally occupied the space had been pushed and reorganized, these too were mostly occupied. Bingus recognized a few of the people seated there, Lama Amya Seff, Bilgamesh, and Rikar were there among others.

Just then Lord Torrance begins banging a gavel loudly upon the table bringing the meeting to order. As he does Amyria moves towards a dais set in the center of the chamber in front of the council members curved table. As she does, the missing githzerai elder walks smoothly into the room with his party of githzerai attendants—navigating the furnishings easily despite his blindness—and approaches the curved table taking the empty seat. “Am I late?” he asks with an arched eyebrow.

Clearly relieved, Amyria takes the podium and opens the proceedings with a rehearsed statement.

“We are facing an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. We will endure war, by sea, land and air, from within and without our own world, attacked from worlds unimagined. It will require all our might and all the strength that Bahamut and the lords of this mortal realm can give us, to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, one never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of extra-dimensional conquest. What then will be our goal? Survival? Are we to be thralled to the githyanki? I say no! I can answer the question in one word: victory. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival; understand this, no survival for the Klarn, no survival for individual city-states, no survival for the urge and impulse to surrender. Today we must move our world forward towards this goal. Each of us have a role to play in this. I feel entitled to claim your allegiance, not for me but for those who look to you for leadership, and for the aid of all! I say, come then, let us go forward together with our united strength. To this purpose I have outlined five first steps that I bring before you here now.”

“The assigning a Coalition leader, and the Coalitions board and organization structure.”

“Transferring the control of your military might to the command of this Coalition for use in the common defense of this council and the world of Klarn against the githyanki invasion.”

“We must name our Coalition, set a banner, and standard such that the peoples of this might have something to rally to.”

“And I need to explain something of my purpose, why I reincarnated and what brought me to Sayre, my single-minded purpose. I awoke to a dream, a dream that came to me with the weight of great significance. I came here to recount it to you so that using our combined wisdom we might determine its relevance and whether it warrants your investigation.”

Amyria pauses, confirming she commanded the full attention of the leaders before repeating her dream just as she had for Odos the night before.

“In my dream I was standing in the midst of raw elements. Waves crashed around me and fires flared, and I was looking down through clouds onto a dark blue night’s sky. Stretching across the sky was a giant spider’s web that was woven between planes. It was silver and sparkled with stars, and at the end of each web line was a githyanki. As each githyanki spoke, the web sparkled, and a fat spider in the middle listened to everything that anyone said. The spider was beautiful, but you could tell it was evil, just like the people talking through it. It scuttled around, fixing frayed lines and tossing out new lines to new people. Most were githyanki, but some were not. One of the lines went to a githzerai. I looked harder at the spider, and I knew it was here in Sayre. I could see the city taking form around it. So I came here. Someone in Sayre is helping the githyanki, and we have to identify this person.”

“This is foolishness, a witch-hunt … Here? I think not,” asserts Lord Torrance.

“This brings me to my final goal. We must put it to our Coalition to investigate my dream significant, given even the most cursory review suggests your citizen Telicanthus might be involved. We need to determine what role he is playing. This last goal is the most pressing before us, but without consensus we risk of fracturing the Coalition even before it is even formed.”

“To assist us today I have invited the heroes of the Elsir Vale, some have already met them, some of you know them only by their reputation … all of you have heard about their successful defense of Overlook. They have agreed to appear here to share their first hand experience with the githyanki attackers but make no mistake no one here knows more about the githyanki than Exalted Master Odos of the githzerai House of Reprisal, nor has anyone of us here had to endure their repeated aggressions such as Master Odos or his people. May the Almighty Dragon of infinite wisdom guide us all in our pursuit of wisdom, and knowledge, as we seek to understand the prophecy that is before us. Is there any other who wishes to address this council before we begin?”

Before Lord Torrance can bang his gavel again, Bingus approaches the podium.

“What Amyria has said is true. I am just one gnome, one of the recent additions to Brindol’s Brigade, but what I have witnessed from the others is nothing short of true valor. As we have struggled against a wide variety of attackers but none more frequently of late than the githyanki and they appear to be the common thread in the other actions as well. They had an agreement with the powerful arms dealer Sarshan instigating a number of large offensives within the Elsir Vale. The githyanki had infiltrated Overlook, even going so far as to psychically possess several of the city’s leaders. Others who stood in their way were replaced by changelings. They attacked not only with the power of their minds, but also with flying ships, dragons and more. They attacked us from here within this mortal plane and they dragged of beyond attacking in other far-flung planes of existence. It has been my experience, and I can attest to the fact that Amyria has not exaggerated the threat they pose in the least. If anything, she has been too gentle in her description of the danger that is upon us all. So I might be just one gnome but I have traveled the planes, I have fought the githyanki and I have studied arcane histories in the Great Library of Palanthas, and still I have only an inkling of the danger these invaders represent.”

As Bingus finishes his invective, outside Coalition Hall the others arrive where they are approached by three young knights.

Knights“Your names and purpose?” asks the tallest of the knights.

“Relax Hrothing, I am no expert but they don’t look like githyanki to me. This isn’t a raid, is it?” asks the second knight, who is more swarthy, friendlier of the two.

The third knight steps-up and offers, “I sense no evil within them."

The second continues, “Right Guardian, you sense, and you sense that … I sense a heaping pile of …”

“OWLS … don’t those owls belong to those elves we met at the gorge?” interrupts Ian.

“No doubt about it,” confirms Vani. “Do you, think they would mind if I pet one?”

“I wouldn’t try it,” whispers the second knight, the one called Strider, under his breath.

Wild Elf GuardA beautiful elf guard waves Vani forward. As Vani approaches the knight the other called Guardian moves to stop him but Hrothing holds out his arm stopping him. Strider stands and grins, his gauntleted right rising to screen his eyes.

Angry Owl‘SNAP!’ Rings the beak of the giant great owl. Vani jumps falling backward, disappearing before he hits the ground, quickly reappearing several feet behind Ian. “Hazzah!” yells Strider.

Recovering his composure Vani tells them, “Did you know I rode a manticore? No, really, I did. Ask them.”

“I think these guys are okay, they have to be the guys they told us about. What do you say, Hrothing?” asks Strider.

“Move along,” the knight answers.

After initial statements, the arguments get underway in earnest. The debate begins with a discussion as to who might lead a coalition. Obviously reluctant, Simberious argues that his duties are too many, and that his post demanded impartiality. The Governor agrees pointing out the proper placement of the alliance was obviously Sayre itself and naturally offering to lead any such effort.

Kalad yells, “Amyria is the obvious leader!”

To which Lord Torrance answers, “Ridiculous, she has no post, no standing, we do not even know this woman.”

“Agreed!” offers Sidgevin.

Bilgamesh approaches the podium with Finellior. The elf glances toward the bard, who nods and speaks, “What about Sidgevin? No one here should doubt his skill at arms, nor his ability to lead. He has as much or more experience than anyone else, many lifetimes worth by human standards.”

“Seconded!” offers Trellara.

Bang … Bang … BANG …. “Come to order, a vote is called for,” announces Lord Torrance. “I vote nay.”

Simberious, “Nay.”

Kalad, glances to Amyria … he offers a very reserved, “aye.”

Odos, “Abstain.”

“Two nays, Three ayes assuming the Vindicator accepts … one non vote … It is up to Fariex,.” points out the Governor.

Luven LightfingerFariex rises and bows to the other members of the Coalition, "If you will excuse me I would consult my counsel before I decide." Stepping towards the assembly in in the benches Fariex approaches the dark figure of Luven Lightfinger. After a whispered conversation the merchant lord returns to his seat.

“As I am an elf one might expect I would support Sidgevin but I see a scowling sour puss.” As if on queue Sidgevin frowns. … “rather than a leader. So temperamental, is the esteemed Viscount that he was even denied him a place among his liege’s elite Knights of Terror due to the Vindicator‘s overly violent nature. So nay I say, and no to poisoned pride.”

“Three ayes, three nays … Odos? … Anyone want to reconsider?” asks the Governor.

“Nay,” adds Kalad.

“This is a waste of time and an affront, I will not be a party to it!” yells Sidgevin.

Still at the podium Fin speaks up, “Please, wait, Lord Sidgevin, speaking for myself I have no doubt in either your ability or your purpose here, but might I suggest Trellara. No one could doubt her wisdom, and as a elf she has the benefit of long years of experience and the trained judgment and neutrality of a druid to aid her.”

“Seconded,” asserts Fariex.

“Sidgevin?” asks Finellior.

“Aye,” responds the Vindicator, “but you Fin have no vote, so I will nominate Trellara.”

“Aye,” offers Kalad.

“Nay,” votes the Governor.

Simberious states, “I too vote, nay. I have nothing against the Lady Trellara, but the priesthood of Pax Tharkas would never support the leadership of a druid, nor would the knighthood.”

“Nor would my Goddess. My guardian includes all the living of this realm, plant and bush, man and beast; it does not allow me to be over caught-up in the affairs of man alone. I decline further consideration,” adds Trellara. “It might surprise you but if this is in fact a war council than perhaps we should seek the leadership of he who knows the most about our enemy, Master Odos.”

“I, too, know something of the githyanki. In my youth I did by chance encounter them. It was a harrowing experience, the ramifications of which are still being felt today. In the course of our battle I discovered that they had slain our immortal Lord Magnus. Later, in the climax of our engagement the githyanki caused the black moon, Nuitari to fall from the sky killing untold thousands and forever changing our world. And those great heroes I had followed into battle there are now all dead, gone or missing. The actions the githyanki are taking now may be just other act of vengeance for some imagined grievance from days long past. They do not think nor act as we do. Their goals span through generations, and I see little difference between them and our Master Odos of the House of ’Reprisal’.” offers Deacon Simberious.

“It might surprise you, Simberious, that I might yet support you given the victimization my druidic faithful suffered through at the hands of the clergy during the Age of Man; but, in truth I know you only through your action and reputation. Certainly, you have both the ability and the means to lead this world’s defense,” replies Trellara.

“I second the elf,” states Kalad.

“I agree as well,” add Fariex

“That is three ayes, and I also support Simberious, bringing the total to four. Simberious has the support of the Coalition,” concludes Lord Torrance.

“I have not agreed. I have other duties and concerns,” insists Simberious.

Councilman Troyas approaches the podium, joining Fin as Bilgamesh retreats to the benches, “I would like to congratulate you all for your foresight in forming this group, and while it is obvious that you are all clearly capable leaders, someone must have the ability to make a final say on matters of import and the members of this body have given you Simberious this honor. What affairs of yours could be of more importance? Perhaps the members of this coalition might assist you?”

Seeing an opportunity Finellior adds, “A compelling case for coordinating the efforts of all the military groups in the room has been made, but we have also heard several concerns about a single individual controlling the actions of the united military effort both by those giving their support and by those receiving it. Perhaps there is a simple solution, by appointing two triumvirates, one to handle military matters and a second to handle financial matters … that would free up the time of the Coalition’s leader, Simberious making his role to coordinate the efforts of the two triumvirates. Considering this assembly, clearly Sidgevin, Odos and Kalad would all be excellent choice for our war council, and equally Fariex, Lord Torrance and Trellara would serve as excellent financial and social moderators … like faith, hope and charity, the three martyrs of war, a counterbalance.”

“There is wisdom in your words, the Rule of Three and all, all in support?” asks Lord Torrance answered by “AYES” all around save for Odos who angrily refused to participate. “The measure is carried, and let’s adjourn for lunch,” the Governor pauses the proceedings with another ‘BANG’ of his gavel.

As the lunch break begins rather than a rush to the food or the doors most of those within the hall move about organize into small cabals throughout the chamber. Some for casually lobbying on behalf of their own agendas, some plotting, and others just to meet new friends.

Odos was still angry over slights both real and imagined, and with that in mind he pulls forth a flask of a potent githzerai liquor called fekk. He takes a sip, grimaces quickly, and shows a flash of a rare smile. Standing nearby Bhenedict and Bairdyn witness the rare levity from the githzerai’s leader and curious they wander over. Unexpectedly, whether out of spite or rare humor, Odos is quick to offer the pair a sip of the fekk. Thinking to himself, Odos mused about the tales he had heard of dwarven constitution and of their love of spirits. The elder had easily spotting their curiosity about the beverage. Reaching out, Odos passes his flask to the dwarf.

Fekk is an acquired taste, both a potent, and a bizarrely flavored alcohol. Bhenedict being the connoisseur that he was, took pause to sip the drink slowly taking in the flavor, even so, it was all that he do not to spew the drink out. His eyes wanted to explode from his head and his tongue grew thick and meaty within his mouth, but instead he just grinned and let the warmth of the drink spread throughout his body where it finally settled satisfyingly within his iron gut. Bennie grinned widely without warning passed the flask on to Bairdyn. Odos was quite impressed. Having witnessed none of the dwarf’s inner turmoil, the halfling swallows deeply from the flask. Bairdyn’s eyes open wide as saucers, as he bends at the middle, spewing and choking as the world begins to spin around him. Bairdyn stumbles, and struggles eventually falling over … still unaware of his lost footing. Odos and Bennie let out a loud guffaw, chuckling together in good spirits … Then quickly help Bairdyn to his feet. Still supported by the other, Bairdyn reaches up asking for seconds. As a testament to the over powering fekk, Bairdyn never notices when Fariex had broken out of deck of ‘Three-Dragon Ante’, which was normally the halfling’s favorite pastime. Fariex was looking for players, and Bairdyn was beyond hearing. In a moment of fekk fueled comradeship Odos pulls Benedict aside sharing “Last night we researched Amyria’s dream on our own, using mystic rituals known to Azitt. Strangely, a verse came to her mind during the ritual.”

Read the writing on the wall
You are not far from a place where knowledge turns to greed
Beneath the spice house lurks the profane
And knowledge lies trapped behind the guardian

Answering Bennie says, “My friends methods were more direct, but their results may shed some light upon your verse. They went out last night … you should ask them about what they found,” suggests the dwarf.

Finding a couple of ‘marks’ … or players depending on your point of view. Fariex deals out the first hand of Three-Dragon Ante from his private deck, a deck worth more than anything Finellior had ever held before. Even Ian was impressed by the beauty of the gold etched deck, so magnificent that they were better suited to hang on a wall than to be used to play a game of chance over a paltry 150 pieces of gold. Still it was obvious to Ian that Fariex wasn’t nearly as interested in the anted gold as in was in meeting Fin and himself. Skilled as Fariex was, both Ian and Fin realized that the merchant was throwing hand after hand toying with them as they played; but the thing about it that was interesting about that, was that, Fariex realized, they realized it … So rather than it being about the cards, the game was about the dance and what they could learn about each other. In that, Fariex was the obvious winner, but in the course of the game both Ian and Fin accumulate their fair share of respect, ultimately winning the merchant’s support. Fin’s own attention was split as he watched Bilgamesh and Rikar following Sidgevin about in a toady-like fashion. Sidgevin seemed pleased enough with the mornings proceedings. Curious, Fin cashed out his winning and joined them but was disappointed when Sidgevin dismissed him almost immediately. Stepping outside, his toadies followed where they, no doubt, continue their own plotting. So Fin, retreated back into the hall and approached Simberious.

“Deacon, if I might have a moment with you?” Fin asked respectfully.

“Of course,” Simberious nods warmly. Fin couldn’t help but like the man.

“I hope I wasn’t overly bold in suggesting that you might lead the Coalition, but your reputation proceeded your arrival, and the council’s respect for you was obvious for all to see.”

“It was bold, but both history and Heironeous favor the bold, you are in good company,” responds Simberious.

“If then I might be bold once again, I would respectfully take issue with one of your comments,” the Deacon nod and Fin continues. “I believe given your experience that you could not have meant what you said about the githzerai. While they certainly share ancestry with the githyanki they are entirely divergent of focus and goals … a different people entirely. I felt it was unfair of you to paint them with the same bush in this mornings discussions.”

“And I would agree with you,” replies the Deacon with a neutral expression. “My personal experience tainted my statements and there is no excuse. It had been so long since I had saw either a gith and they are of the same stock but I would agree that an apology is in order.”

Pleased, Finellior watches with satisfaction as Simberious excuses himself moving directly to Odos. The half-elven bard had struggled with racial indifference himself while coming to manhood. He was please as he watched the Deacon bow and take the elder githzerai’s hand in friendship.

After lunch the meeting gets underway again with another bang of the Governor’s gavel. Deacon Simberious rises and publicly apologizes to Odos before the Coalition assembly and the Deacon received a round of considered applause from all of the attendees setting the tone for the afternoon’s debate and the afternoon. Borrowing from Palanthas he closes with, "I have been reminded that there are many things that are worse than war. They all begin with defeat and so I accepted leadership of this body and I will make victory our only option."

As the debate continues the discussions go smoothly and the Coalition moves swiftly from item to item. First working together, Bingus and Amyria come up with a name for the new Coalition, calling it, “The Seven Platinum Shields” Bingus pointing out the seven canaries Borkadd the Claw, Kurya the Eye, Sonngrad the Wing, Gruemar the Voice, Marroshok the Tail, Troannaxia the Presence, and Urgala the Fang associated with Bahamut, and the role the dragon god played in both Amyria’s faith, and the god’s dogma of disapproving of evil, compassion and has boundless empathy for the weak and downtrodden.

The goodwill extends throughout the afternoon until discussion turns to the final item on Amyria’s agenda, convincing the Seven Shield Coalition to investigate Telicanthus’s role in the githyanki invasion. As the matter of the dream and its interpretation comes up for debate, given the obvious implications the Governor becomes defensive.

“You stated that you knew the spider was here in Sayre because you could see the city taking form around it and that someone in Sayre is helping the githyanki, and we have to identify this person suggesting one of my citizens might be assisting?”

Dark-LensOnce again Luven Lightfinger rises from his seat and takes the podium drawing all attention to himself. As he does he casually reaches into a small poach amid the irritated grumblings of the Governor. Luven withdraws a small piece of cut glass holding it up so that everyone in the hall could see it.

Dark Lens“I have a analyzed this item recovered by Odos from one of his own who had been possessed by the githyanki invaders. Other similar items have been recovered from githyanki scouts by Brindol’s Brigade. Each piece of glass bears the signatures of their maker that can be detected by both mundane and magical means. I have done, and I am prepared to share my findings with you, but in the hope my findings might clarify the matter before you I can tell you that these items share their manufacture with this (as he holds up a second piece of glass), a knob it took from Telicanthus’s carriage.”

Vanquished the Governor bangs his gavel bringing the now lively crowd in the hall to order once again.

“Might I suggest that given the explosive nature of these findings that our meeting here might not be as secure as we would desire. Might I suggest we should adjourn until we can examine our security,” adds the Governor.

Agreed the meeting is ended in heated whispers. As the leaders and their guests depart the hall. Lord Torrance approachs Eoffram, the Brigade’s Councilman, “I am aware you and your friends have been invited to Telicanthus’s mansion for tea later this afternoon. My wife, the Lady Catherine, will also be in attendance. I will see to it that the glassmaker is distracted, I suggest you use the time to our advantage.”

SOW Chapter9: Bitter Glass: The Plaza Of Vision

Bitter Glass to come
Githyanki plot in motion

Dark Queen Lord of Greed

Bitter Glass – The Plaza of Vision

povAs Ian, Bingus, Eoffram, Bairdyn, Bhenedict, Vani and Rikar leave Kark’din, and move into the plaza, there they notice movement in the mouths of the alleys around them. Ragged beggars emerge from the shadows brandishing bright, new weapons—and wearing chainmail beneath their rags. The attackers are healthy, strong and well fed, despite the rags and dirt that cover them. It is immediately obvious that they are more than Laughing Shadowproficient with the weapons they wield.

Unbeknownst to the adventurers, the newcomers are part of trained band of mercenaries, the Laughing Shadows. They had been lying in wait, hidden within the dark shadows of the alley ways that surrounded the Plaza of Vision staying out of the sight of the githzerai within the sanctuary. These mercenaries were not the city’s normal cadre of beggars. Telicanthus had dispatched his personal guard disguising them as beggars. These hired mercenaries were the finest human warriors Sarshan had been able to deliver, fearless and well-trained. The Laughing Shadows did the githyanki’s dirty work wherever necessary throughout Sayre. Composed of an assortment of spies, thieves, and strong-arms, the Laughing Shadows also acted as Telicanthus’s household guards, when they weren’t busy infiltrating the cities beggars. The Laughing Shadows had been tasked with eliminating any githzerai they encountered singly within the city. Most of the city’s native beggars didn’t even realize that their guild had been compromised. The Shadows had bought off the beggar’s leader, a retched bully known as the Filth-King who had eagerly joined in on the fun of singling out the githzerai as a target of scorn and fear.

This attack was different, the Laughing Shadows were planning something special. This time the Laughing Shadows had come en mass, street-fighters and scrabblers all, they had come to fight and they numbered nearly two dozen in all. As the battle begins they pin the heroes down within the Plaza of Vision, but soon the Vale’s spell-casters, Vani, Bingus and Eoffram use their magic to escape the ambush magically making their ways, each in their own method, to the high rooftops of Riverdown from where they could effective target the attackers with spells firing down into the dark, misty alley ways with relative impunity. After a hard fought battle and several close calls the heroes overwhelm the mercenaries capturing two of the Laughing Shadows so they could question them. The prisoners never admit that they work for Telicanthus, instead they offer only a planned cover story leading the heroes to search out a spice house near Lowbridge to find their employer.

The Covet House

After the fight, the majority of the group Ian, Bingus, Eoffram, Bhenedict and Vani retired to the inn, some for rest and some for refreshments but Bairdyn and Rikar stayed in Riverdown where they skulked about following beggars surreptitiously. Before long they had determined a pattern to the beggars paths following them to Lowbridge, a local temple dedicated to Tiamat, Klarn’s Lord of Excess, the Goddess of Greed and Envy. The temple was located in an old warehouse across the street from the last bridge in Sayre but the beggars were not headed to the temple and strangely, the beggars avoided contacting anyone … they didn’t even speak to anyone while they were near Lowbridge a fact which perked up Bairdyn’s curiosity. So the halfling suggested taking to the rooftops and from there the odd couple watched, drow and halfling until they were sure the beggars were disappearing within a complex of abandoned buildings. Rikar dropped to the ground and searched the complex until he found a particular warehouse. From the looks of it this warehouse had been abandoned for a long time but it still smells faintly of exotic spices. The faded and chipped paint over the boarded main doors a sign specified “Ridolfi and Sons, Spice Merchants.”

Immediately, the two heroes left heading directly to the River Jewel arriving in the wee hours of the morning. The revelry had played out in the inn’s bar, but the crowd was still dispersing. A voice cried out, “Rikar!” and the drow turned spotting Finellior.

“Sidgevin was wondering how you were doing,” stated Fin.

“I am fine but interesting things are afoot. Care to join us? I can fill you in,” responded Rikar.

Seeing the halfling, Fin adds, “Oh, hello Bairdyn, I hadn’t noticed you. How fares your friend Bennie?”

“I am not sure, but I’m about to find out,” answers the halfling.

As Rikar explains their findings to Fin. Bairdyn quickly climbs to the stairs as he rushes to tell Bennie all about his adventure. Outside in the halls at the top of the stair one of Ian’s phantoms was keeping watch. The ghost Ians were creepy as far as the halfling was concerned; Bairdyn normally avoided them but this time he ignored the phantom racing past excitedly calling out to Bennie. Bairdyn‘s excited chatter woke both Bingus and Vani. Vani almost never slept and when he did Bairdyn had noticed he was quick to wake. Still excited, Bairdyn beat on Bhenedict’s door, but there was no answer. Disappointed and suddenly a little worried, Bairdyn breaks out his picks and lickity-split the door was open. Inside the room Bairdyn spies the dwarf facedown on the floor snoring in a pool of what Bairdyn hoped was drool. Bennie was still clutching a drinking horn and a thought came to Bairdyn, could it be? He tried to grab the horn but he couldn’t pull it from Bennie’s grasp.

Unnoticed Fin had followed, and from behind the hobbit he says “Don’t worry, I’ve got one for you too. And you might want to let him sleep this one off. He was quite upset that you weren’t here to help him celebrate. He went on and on about it. I’m afraid he drank himself into a stupor before crawling up the stair to his room … all the while he kept on saying how you’d let him down in ‘his moment of glory’ … is how he put it.”

“But I was on a mission!” exclaimed Bairdyn. “Bennie wake-up! Wake-up!”

Bennie stirs and putting forth a great effort flipping over onto his back, “Go away you worthless mangy Hobbb-IT! Goeaway! Who needs yaw!”

“But Bennie, I found it … I found it!” says Bairdyn franticly.

“Well bring it over hereee and I’ll show youuu wheree youcanstickit!” answers Bennie as he rolled over coat the other half of his face in drool and then was almost immediately back asleep.

“From what Rikar has told me we should follow up on the lead you’ve found immediately,” suggests Finellior.

“That’s it, if Bennie’s not going. I’m not going,” announces Bairdyn.

“Don’t worry yourself Bairdyn, he’ll recover and I will checkout this spice house with the others you can wait here with Bennie,” offers Finellior.

Leading the others, Rikar heads back to Lowbridge darting ahead heedless of the darkness that his drow eyes were made for. Several times he has to slow down for the others. Once he arrives, Rikar waits quietly for the others. Arriving Vani, Bingus and Eoffram hold the position and Rikar, Ian and Fin advance. Rikar and Fin take to the rooftops while Ian walks through the alley way below them. As they move closer to the building. Vani notices a young homeless girl, a child, watching the others up on the rooftops but neither Rikar or Fin had appeared to have noticed her. The little girl was crouched in the shadows of a nearby building. As the rooftop explorers past she followed, with the seed of a plan Vani approached her.

“What are you doing out here?” asked Vani. Vani imagines that he wasn’t that scary, barely taller than the girl he slapped on a big smile.

Street Urchin“I live here, wot’s it to yew?” she asks.

“I have just been wondering,” answers Vani withdrawing a silver piece from his cloak.

Suddenly joining in, Bingus approaches asking, “Do you want to play a game?”

“Ewe, your gross, I know about men like you. I’ll scream and I bite,” the little girl threatens.

Vani holds up his hands, in protest, “Were not like that, I am a halfling and I’m married and my friend Bingus is married too, and he has kids of his own.”

Interjecting, Bingus says, “I’ll bet you know all kinds of games … like hide of go seek, but I bet you already know all the best hiding places … don’t you?”

Nodding the girl says, “Yes!”

“Okay then, you see him,” Bingus points out Eoffram who was still waiting a short way down the street.

“If you can hide us all from him before he counts to 100 then we will give you a piece of gold … What do you say?”

“Okay!” answers the girl with unhidden excitement. “We have to go this way but you have to be quiet, it will be no fair if he hears you,” whispers the girl.

She shuffles through the alley, and goes around the side of the empty warehouse that Bairdyn and Rikar had discovered, then spotting Ian again. She pulls a cleverly concealed rope that strangely comes out of the building’s foundation. She gives the rope three short pulls, and says, “Hurry there are bad men watching.” As Ian turns the corner she darts for the front of the building waving for Bingus and Vani to follow. Vani holds back long enough to signal Rikar using a silent drow hand language, flashing a sign that meant ‘Stay out of sight.’ … Suddenly with an invisible start, Vani realizes that he never knew drow sign language before, and he didn’t know how he had learned. Regardless, there would be time to wonder about that later … Rikar had understood, and the drow disappeared in the shadows.

The only door to the warehouse appeared to be boarded up but in truth, it was locked with a combination of nails and knotholes that the girl quickly manipulated to open the door. Silently she slipped in signaling Bingus and Vani to follow. Once they had entered she quickly shut and relocked the door.

Rather than sitting in the dark, Bingus quickly summoned a magical light that illuminated the small tight interior of the building. The spice house’s interior was 20 feet by 30 feet and it lacked any access to the upper floors. What had once been there had rotted out years ago. The actual floor was covered with rubble, and the uncomfortable sounds of squeaking rats could be heard within the structure’s walls. The smell of spices was still very strong inside the abandoned warehouse.

“Well, you’ve earned this,” offered Bingus flipping the girl a gold piece, “but I will double it if you show me the way down,” said the gnome guessing that there was more to this chamber.

“Oh, I can’t do that Mister Fancy Pants … If I do that I’ll get in trouble,” replies the girl.

“Then just show me where, and I won’t tell anyone," promises Bingus.

“It’s there,” she says pointing to the only blank spot on the floor. “But there’s a knife that comes out of the fl..” Just then the front door rattles and hands begin frantically working at the knotholes, soon the door opens and in comes Rikar, Fin, Ian and Eoffram.

“Quick run away, go hide!” shouts Bingus. Quick as a whip, the girl darts out of the building.

Rikar moves to catch her but not before Vani blocks his path and says, “Let her go!” Then addressing the gnome Vani says, “I still owe her another gold piece.”

“That I do,” agrees Bingus. “And I will happily pay here when we are through here. Fin, how good are you at disarming traps?”

Apparently good enough, because soon with a little help from Rikar the trapdoor on the floor is opened and Fin avoids a spring trapped heavy spiked ball that would have been capable of cracking either wood or skulls. The hidden door opens to reveal a short pit that is 5 feet deep that allows access to a narrow tunnel that is less than 4 feet high. It is tight enough that the taller members of the party would need to crawl on hands and knees to get through it. Heedless of the danger, Vani offers to lead the way but defers to Rikar who points out that he can travel the tunnel easily enough and without the need of light.

The tunnel extends thirty feet ending in a dead-end where finding no way to proceed Rikar calls for Vani. The halfling walks down the tunnel carrying a light. After another brief search they find a counterweighted trapdoor in the tunnel floor. Carved into the wood of the trapdoor in the Common tongue are the words, ‘Give, and you will be given to.’

“Hmm, a puzzle,.” comments Vani. Noticing a slot next to the doors edge, he pulls out the piece of silver and slides it into the slot. Immediately, the door opens downward, through what was once an ancient roof, the roof of a buried building. It now served as a door effectively punched through the roof of the ancient building.

Effectively blinded by Vani’s light Rikar asks the halfling go back down the tunnel away from the entrance so he could effectively search the chamber that they had revealed. With the distracting light gone the drow peers into the darkness seeing a rope ladder dangling almost all the way to floor, stopping just 10 feet from the chamber‘s floor. The room beneath is otherwise mostly empty. Several platforms jut from the walls—the remains of the floors of what was at one time a multi-story building. Some of the platforms seemed to have been reinforced. Each of the platforms was covered in piles of rags, the nearest of which was just 5 feet below the entrance and attached to the north wall of the sunken room. The remaining platforms were each 5 feet across and they descended in somewhat regular intervals along the walls of the room to either side. Across the room to the south is another door, but it was also suspending 10 feet above the ground floor at the point where another platform attached to the south wall. Then as he peered into the darkness Rikar notices a slight movement among one of the rag piles on some of the platforms and he realizes that bodies, living breathing bodies were hidden beneath the rags.

Withdrawing Rikar does his best to explain the situation to the others. “The problem is we will have to enter one at a time. People are hidden upon each of the platforms, the platforms descend the various levels, each about five feet below the last wrapping about the chamber. Three levels down there is a door on the far wall, but it looks like it is accessible from one of the platforms.”

“I will enter first,” volunteers, Rikar. “The darkness will give me an advantage. As I draw them you spell-casters can attack.”

Agreeing they act on Rikar’s plan. Rikar goes first, followed by Bingus, then Vani. Fin follows them; next Eoffram was to enter leaving Ian to guard the rear and keep their exit clear. Rikar approaches the trapdoor and leaps across to the nearest platform finding it empty he calls out. Bingus races forward shining his magical light into the chamber. As he does the chamber erupts as rags tumble and shurikens fly at the drow. Mercenaries like those in the plaza attack the drow from all sides. Quickly Bingus unleashes a spell to good effect, but Rikar is still hopelessly outnumbered. Then one of the attacker leaps from a nearby platform joining Rikar, the mercenary uses his momentum to shove Rikar off the platform. Rikar falls but grabs the platform dangling by one hand. Seeing the drow’s distress, Vani barges past Bingus grabbing the ladder as he leaps swinging to the platform abandoned by the mercenary. Quickly Vani targets the mercenary attacking with an arcane blast, but his attack is too rushed and the mercenary survives but he too loses his footing tumbling off the platform. Like Rikar before him, the mercenary catches himself and the pair begin kicking each other, trying to knock each other from the platform. More shurikens fly at Vani forcing him to retreat back to the relative safety of the tunnel using a quick burst of psychic energy … The halfling disappears in a flash. And Bingus renews his attack, counting foes he finds they number five.

The CubeMoving past Fin, Eoffram enters the fray. Grabbing the rope ladder Eoffram carefully begins lowering himself to the nearest landing but he find himself under an immediately attack so he releases his hold and drops from the ladder vanishing while he conceals himself within an echo plane. Suddenly the warlock is surrounded by madness and shrieking winds but leaves enough of himself anchored behind in Klarn to watch protected by a web of invisibly, and suspended in the center of the chamber. From this dark place, Eoffram unleashes a horrid shout, a howl of doom so powerful it cracks the stone and pulps the mercenary’s flesh. Supernatural terror cascades in waves over half of the chamber, powerful enough to force everyone back as Eoffram pushes the foes away from Rikar. Caught in the blast Rikar falls and braces himself for a hard landing but he is surprised when he instead lands softly, sucked into a gooey, moist suffocating gelatin.

Suddenly concerned the drow struggles as his flesh begins burning all over, even beneath his armor. Rikar finds his vision badly blurred. He tries to shout but he finds that he can’t utter a sound, as a gelatinous substance fills his mouth causing him to choke and rendering him incapable of speech. Frantically, his struggles increase.

Unable to help Rikar, Bingus continues his assault upon the remaining mercenaries. Fin descends into the chamber to help. As they do Rikar frees himself through his own dimensional gate, teleporting himself from the gut of enveloping jelly and transporting himself back to one of the platforms. Eoffram joins him stepping back into reality. Fin rushes to Rikar’s aid helping to heal the drow. Together they quickly slay the remaining mercenaries and together they proceed to the door.

Map: Covet House

Beyond the door the area opens up to what was once an open street in the old city of Whitestone. Back when the beggars had rediscovered this area the street had been completely filled with the mud and silt that heralded Whitestone’s destruction. Now this section of the street had been excavated, the work of several generations of beggars. Here and now it obviously served as a sleeping place and shelter to the city’s beggars. It smelled of human sweat, rot and decay. Stopped up by silt and soil at either end. No doubt any number of pestilences, fleas, rats, lice and the like would feast upon anyone unfortunate enough to sleep here but all-in-all it was still cleaner than one might expect. Roughly a 50-foot-long section of ancient cobblestone roadway had been cleared and the entire area was filled with sleeping pallets and the meager possessions of dozens of people. Another forgotten building, one choked with rubble, stood adjacent to the building the heroes had just descended. Across the street was the excavated entrance of what was once a grand temple constructed by Majere. The icon that had originally adorned the doorway had been ripped away so now the temple was unmarked. 

Rikar had now been completely healed from the previous battle thanks to the efforts of his friends. Recovered he moved forward to check the outer doors to the temple. Checking the door he confirms that it was not locked and opening the door he peers in. Within Rikar sees a vestibule that is 10 feet long, and revealed in the dim light of sconced candles.

The walls of either side have murals, one the painting of a beautiful woman, holding out her arms invitingly, five dragon-heads arrayed behind her. He recognizes this to be the human aspect of Tiamat, goddess of greed and envy. The opposite wall features a painted image of the five-headed dragon, Tiamat in full glory.

Tiamat Mural

 

Tiamat SymbolBeyond the vestibule Rikar hears worshipers are engaged within as the Vale’s heroes pad into the Covet House. The inner door entry bares Tiamat’s symbolic image, the five-headed dragon, clearly defining the temple.

As Rikar signals the other heroes just before he bursts in slamming into the temples doors. Within the pews are filled with beggars, as one they turn to face the drow. At the head of the temple a filthy and bedraggled priest before an altar. “Get them!” he hisses as his attendant leaps behind him.

Filth KingThe priest was the beggars’ leader, the Filth King, a devotee of Tiamat. He himself had repurposed this ancient chapel into a secret church to the goddess of greed. The purpose of this secret temple is to remind these worshipers that everyone else has a better life than they do and to hide the beggars’ collected wealth. The temple magically inspired envy, even among the heroes as they entered.

The room was octagonal, with nine pews facing the altar. Rough paintings on the walls showed beggars staring through windows, watching rich people feasting on golden plates. Behind the altar lied a pit that ran the length of the room. It was 10 feet wide and 20 feet deep. The bottom of the pit was mostly empty except for dozen of skeletons, and scattered coins that missed their target. On the far side of the pit there was an immense pile of treasure. There were no ladders or clear path to cross the pit. The glittering pile of wealth was lain across the pit’s black gulf, and the pile had a palpable attraction, even with a rough statue of Tiamat looking down on it. The statue was set against the furthest wall.

Rikar’s friends rush in behind him as a battle breaks out with the six heroes fighting against the temple’s worshippers, the priest and his groveling assistant. Most of the devotees were clearly more members of the Laughing Shadows. The priest ignored everything rushing to attack while the groveler behind him pleaded while organizing the others, “GET THEM … Save me … Stop them!”

The priest gazes into Rikar’s eyes, instant waking greed within the drow. Rikar tried to resists but immediate he felt he was faltering, involuntarily he staggered, moving towards the priest. The priest reaches out grabbing Rikar within his meaty fists, his filthy, greedy hands, pressing into Rikar’s flesh, the priest’s dirty fingernails digging in, spreading infection with their touch. Finellior races to Rikar’s aid, but anticipating the bard’s move he greets Fin with a torrent of projectile vomit that rains down upon the two heroes blinding them with the disgusting filth.

Having seen enough Bingus reacts by opening a vortex just behind the priest. The pull of the vortex inexorably draws the priest into Bingus’s own magical nether realm. Taking advantage of the priest’s absence Ian draws on his own inestimable psionic resources, pulling first one and then a second of his phantoms out of time and dispatches them to harass their other foes. Working with the phantoms Ian blocks the aisles between the pews which allows the other members of his party a opportunity to recover. The Laughing Shadows fight back but without success. Still blinded Fin, backs away but turning the moment to their advantage the bard begin to regale the other with an inspiring ballad calling the other to even greater valor.

“Who was it fought for Klarn?
Your fathers, lads, your sires!
Who marched behind the Lords at war?
Your fathers’ fathers’ sires!”
“Elves and Dwarves answered their call;
They fought for Humans, risking all;
And now they feast in Memory’s Hall
Your fathers’ fathers’ sires!”
“Who now shall stand against the foe?
‘Tis you, my lads, ’tis you!
Who fights to end this reign of Woe?
You do, my lads, you do!”

Without warning, the evil priest quickly breaks free of Bingus’s spell reemerging from the vortex which closes in behind him. Even as he does. Eoffram enters the temple calling out, “BROOD of HADAR, Ebon Hunger, Feast upon your stinking prey!” The warlock points directly at the priest. The priest has time to scream only once and then he clutches his head and shaking he falls to the floor. Fluttering, leaping and crawling, small fanged horrors, forged of shadow, begin to pour from the priest’s eyes and take flight. The priest claws at his eyes trying to hold the monsters in, but the swarm resists his efforts, and the dark things begin emerging from the priest’s mouth instead, ending his screams. As the priest pinches his lips the monsters pour from his ears. The demonic brood spirals into the air and then descends in mass consuming the groveling sycophant that had been cowering behind the priest. Howling the assistant cringes and flees running into the pointy end of Rikar’s blade.

"Who out of love and friendship true
Now fights with both Mind and Thew?
And who shall have such fame as you?
"None shall, my lads, none shall!"
"Yet even in Hope’s bright hour
Men may turn towards false power
That seeks to rule by fear and pain;
But steadfast we here shall all remain!”

Within a moments, the battle it is done. Within the pews the eight Shadows and the priest’s assistant lie dead leaving only the filthy priest. Who was crawling on the floor still recovering from his ordeal. As the heroes gather, the priest stands with his back to the pit and the heroes standing between him and the door to the temple.

“Careful pretties, lest you would answer my mistress’s call. Doubt not her power nor ability to punish thee here within her temple,” hisses the dirty priest.

“You would do well to answer our questions, unless you want to end-up like your followers priest,” threatens Eoffram.

“They be no followers of mine, Sir, nor do I fear anything you might do to me. Surely your own power scarcely matters in this the mortal realm while my queen’s extends throughout this realm and far beyond,” answers the priest.

He continues, “Still, because it amuses me … and offers no harm, ask what you will. Mayhap I will enlighten you.”

Ian accepts the priest’s offer, “We will leave you your life, your temple and the mountain of wealth behind you if you truthfully tell us of your connection to the men that have attacked us.”

Minotaur's HornsThe Filth King considers, grins and speaks, “I can shed some light on recent activities in the city. A few weeks back, I was approached by a stranger in a dark cloak. While I didn’t see the man’s face, the stranger offered to pay substantially if the beggars of our city would harass the githzerai at every opportunity. He even offered the services of these mercenaries (indicating the dead men in the pews) —the Laughing Shadows—and a bounty on dead githzerai. Clearly we accepted.”

“Who was this man?” asks Ian, watching carefully for any sign of deceit.

“I cannot say … both his appearance and his voice was disguised, not that I cared,” responds the priest. “He did a fine job of hiding his identity, no lack of talent there.”

Detecting no deceit, the heroes leave, honoring Ian’s promise to the evil priest. Exiting the covet house they are greeted by the full light of morning. Wincing, in pain, and smelling of beggars vomit, the heroes make their way the River Jewel. Exhausted they arrive finding that Amyria is already waiting for them with both Bairdyn and Bhenedict dressed in finery, the friends enjoying a shared beverage sipping from their new drinking horns, the same horns they had taken from the minotaur gladiator they had defeated in the arena of the Stone-skinned King.

SOW Chapter9: Bitter Glass – The Beginning

Bitter Glass to come
Githyanki plot in motion

Welcome to Sayre

Bitter Glass – The Beginning

Sayre

A History of Sayre:

The beautiful city of Sayre is built in a small, defensible valley. Steep hills to the north provide protection from overland armies and make excellent spots for small defensive guard posts. The Lake of Songs sits uphill to the northwest of the city. The lake is dammed at its outflow to help control floods, this lake is used year-round for fishing and recreation; it is extraordinarily beautiful and the subject of many paintings and tapestries by local artists. The Singing River descends from the lake and splits briefly into three branches as it flows through Sayre. A tall cliff guards Sayre’s eastern flank, dropping 200 feet to the valley below. The only direction an invading army could easily approach Sayre from is the west, across the farms and fields, and guard towers alert the town to any threat approaching from that direction.

Before there was a Sayre, the legendary city of Whitestone stood on this same site. Whitestone had been built when the world was young, it was the first new city within the new world of Klarn, and it was built as a refuge by exiled diviner Lord Ishtar when he first materialized within Klarn. Legends says he had been driven from the Mystic Isles by Magnus and his followers, the metallic dragons. Soon the diviner was joined by Lord Majere and together they settled in this particularly beautiful and defensible valley to continue their research into divination and communication while they established the foundation for culture in those early days when the world Klarn was still a savage place.

In Whitestone the two lords built a city of wonder, a place to mentor their apprentices, and to train new academics and sages to civilize the world. Whitestone progressed slowly at first, but soon enough it became a small city built around Ishtar’s first tower. The other lords had settled elsewhere giving rise to the young kingdoms that grew and spread throughout the rest of the world of Klarn but it was from the bosom of Whitestone that true culture lived and breathed in those early days and Whitestone always remained the home to the sages who specializing in the study of divinatory devices, items such as crystal balls and again as legends has it, Ishtar had housed his masterpiece the Dark Lens, a huge glass globe, the color of the evening sky, within the bowel of his Whitestone tower … a device that could transmit messages anywhere, even across planes.

The story passed down across the centuries was that Lord Majere had crafted individual mirrors that he attuned to Ishtar’s Dark Lens for their most favored apprentices, tools they used to easily communicate with each other no matter where they traveled within Klarn. Majere’s apprentices spread throughout the realm, in turn gifting these same mirrors to a new generation of world leaders–leaders groomed at Majere’s Whitestone university. These were the leaders tasked with the taming of the realm, the greater mainland of Klarn, those who eventually they succeeded in pulling mankind from its savagery, and founding new prosperous city-states. As civilization blossomed, merchant consortiums formed between the city-states as over the course of several generations civilization took hold spreading across Klarn giving rise to many places including Mendelland, Palanthas, The City of Dark Delights and The City of Sin. As the human world expanded Whitestone’s founders eventually left; Ishtar and Majere moved away from the island joining the other Lords within their new home Mendelland leaving legendary Whitestone behind.

Back in Whitestone the scholars continued their experimentation working with the artifacts the two lords had left behind. The scholars soon found that they could hear and see everything that passed through Majere’s mirrors within the matrix of the Dark Lens. The Whitestone sages had gained access to this new secret source of information, and became increasingly dependent upon it growing more and more lazy and derelict. They used their power to monitor and spy upon the rulers of Klarn’s city-states eavesdropping through the Dark Lens. The new rulers in the young city-states never suspected that they were being spied upon and the Whitestone scholars never took the time to fully comprehend the power of the Dark Lens they were utilizing. The sages never realized the Dark Lens was creating psychic ripples within the Astral Sea whenever it was used and they had ignored the warnings that Lord Ishtar had left behind forbidding the use of the Dark Lens. They never even paused to consider why its use was forbidden. If they underestimated the danger it posed, they only considered that it was unlikely that anyone would catch on to their spying, but they should have paid more attention because ultimately it cost them everything.

The scholars were listeneing in on so many fascinating conversations, endlessly creating ripples upon the Astral Sea until the ripples were noticed by the masters of the Astral Plane, the githyanki. When word of the ripple spread to the githyanki city of Tu’narath, the psychic debris cast off from the Dark Lens matrix caught the attention of their Lich Queen. She quickly determined that someone on the mortal realm was using the energy of the Astral Plane to fuel the communication device. Paranoid in the extreme, within three months, Vlaakith herself named this device the Bitter Glass and decreed that the psychic pollution must be eliminated. Her knights immediately carried out her orders. They raided Whitestone and it was terrible to behold. Githyanki dragonriders shattered the town’s dam, flooding the streets with water and mud, then proceeded to pick off fleeing citizens one by one. By the end of the night, the city was dead, and the Bitter Glass was shattered and buried under the broken tower that housed it. The city was looted and abandoned. The githyanki left no survivors. Those within Whitestone died never knowing the reason behind the attack nor did the world at large, but Whitestone was gone.

Rebuilding: Sixty years later, shepherds began working the site where the city had been, but without a dam on the Singing River, the site of the former city became a flood plain whenever it rained. Finally, dwarven engineers showed up to assist the shepherds by rebuilding the dam on the Lake of Songs, and in time Sayre was built where Whitestone had once stood. The level of the land had risen after so many years of floods, and all of Whitestone’s old buildings had been completed buried. All residents of the modern city knew that there is an old city beneath the streets, and some families dug down to take advantage of a pre-made cellars by digging through the roofs of old buildings, but enough people caused cave-ins or unleashed monsters that it was declared to be illegal to dig into the undercity.

Sayre is now ruled by a wily half-elven politician named Lord Divian Torrance, and under his direction the city goes out of its way to attract the finest artists and craftsmen in Klarn. As a result, many wealthy families call Sayre home, and all of these have their own mercenary security forces they use to protect their houses and workshops. Not much of a public militia is needed, although a small force controlled by Torrance’s good friend General Taramin. The public militia is subsidized by a public ordinance crafted by the wily Lord Torrance. Each family above a certain income level must commit a number of troops from their own personal guard units to the city’s defense. This makes the city’s safety the concern of all the wealthiest families, although it requires a charismatic and skillful general to keep all the different house troops in line. Sayre also boasts a small theater and a large university that still attracts scholars from cities across Klarn. For such a small city, Sayre is a shining beacon of light. Lord Torrance fully intends to keep it that way. It is into this city of buried secrets that the party arrives as they step through the reconstructed Lord’s Gate at Vraath Keep.

The Heroes Arrive

Stepping through the gate Bhenedict hears the distant sound of church bells long before he actually sees Sayre. It lies in the valley below the dwarf and his companions, nestled between three rivers. Sunlight reflects from the city’s canals. Although the city has roughly the same number of inhabitants as Overlook, Sayre is a very different city. Ian had told them that it was a city of artists, artisans, and scholars, and now Benny saw that was true.

The sunlight filtering through the hills gave a golden glow to the entire valley. From where he stood, he could see mansions and palaces rising up from the islands between the rivers, university halls jutting upward, amid numerous monuments and large statues, and here and there the smoke from smithies rose into the air. On the southeastern side of the city mist from a huge waterfall swirled along the edge of the city. As they approached they saw a guardhouse standing in front of the great bridge that led over the river into the city. There a throng of people bustled about—buskers, salesfolk, travelers, beggars, and guards. Mixed with them even a few rich nobles could be seen, riding in open-top carriages in their finery. Missed amidst this bustle a servant approached, haltingly. “Excuse me,” he says, “but by any chance are you the Heroes of Elsir Vale?”

Pausing with a smirk and a slow grin, Bhenedict cocks an eyebrow and asks, “Who wants to know?”

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a familiar voices pipes in, “Yes that would be us,” the gnome Bingus answers smiling widely. “I am Bingus, this is Bhenedict, oh … and that’s Bairdyn.” He says pointing out one of the hobbits. “Vani is ah …, right over there, but I don’t believe he is really from the Vale but he’s a good friend and you should get to know him. Eoffram should be here soon too, oh there he is over there.” Bingus points out Eoffram.

“My master will be so pleased! You’re quite famous; he was just talking about you today at tea. Would you do me the honor of allowing me to introduce you?” asks the secretary.

Having joined the others, Eoffram responds, “We would be happy to make ‘his?’ acquaintance,” while eyeing Bingus suspiciously.

Bolstered, the servant looks pleased as he explains, “My master is Lord Telicanthus,” and immediately the servant turns and begins leading them through the throng to a dark doored wooden carriage with remarkable stained glass windows. The carriage is pulled by two horses. Unnoticed within the crowd, the drow Rikar watches the exchange with interest. Rikar had been sent by Viscount Sidgevin who somehow knew that Brindol’s heroes would be coming. The servant knocks once and opens the door, “My Lord Telicanthus, may I please introduce the famous Heroes of Elsir Vale.”

Ambassador TelicanthusA tall, spindly man steps out into the sunlight. Lord Telicanthus is a githyanki, but quite unlike any githyanki that the heroes had seen before. He has a warm, quick smile and his eyes lock in rapt attention to Eoffram’s scathing glare. The counselor from Brindol notices the fashionable, very expensive clothing Telicanthus is wearing and equally the lack of any of the traditional githyanki jewelry or weaponry the heroes normally associated with githyanki. The githyanki’s handshake is firm, his voice is clear, and he has only the faintest trace of an accent when he addresses Eoffram.

“It’s such a pleasure to meet you. We’ve received some news of our friends to the north, but I never expected to actually meet the heroes in person! Some travelers have brought word of your many battles. It’s very rare to meet living heroes, so this is quite a moment for me. Are you just arriving here in Sayre?”

At the back of the party Odos’s back stiffens, immediately his personal guard, Beezil and Dak’kon step between Odos and the githyanki. Telicanthus watches with only the slightest of reaction … sorrow with a touch of understanding.

“Of course I am not associated at all with those murderous githyanki in the Astral Sea. No, I left that life years ago and I’ve never regretted it once. I’m a glassmaker by trade, and a loyal citizen of this fine city. We can’t help how we’re born, but we can choose how we live our lives. Something that everyone really ought to learn,.” says Telicanthus pointedly looking towards the githzerai. The githzerai guards attitude shifts from one of protecting Odos to the point where they are instead interposing themselves to halt the blind elder’s advance.

Eoffram answers plainly, a hint of confusion evident in his eyes, “Yes,.” then Telicanthus continues. “Well, allow me to provide you with some most humble shelter! The finest inn in the city is the River Jewel, right by the bridge in our Glassworks District. Pennel?” He turns to his secretary, just exiting the carriage. “Run ahead to the Jewel and book . . .” He looks at you and counts. “Rooms for each of them. Put it on my account there, meals included. Let them know that their guests are people of honor, and are to be treated as such.” The secretary nods and hurries off. “It’s so rare to get people of the world here, artists aside.” He considers. “Would you do me the honor of coming to tea tomorrow? All the elite in the city, from the mayor on down, would doubtlessly be honored to meet you. You’ll be the toast of the town. Tomorrow, at my estate—I’ll have Pennel leave details for you in the morning, and I’ll send a carriage.”

Behind the party, Ian approaches, having missed the excitement, helping the crippled warrior Arryk along, “Like it or not, it was not safe for you to stay at the keep, not with githyanki army on the way. We will send you back when you are mended. Until then you are my guest here and I will see that you receive the finest care Sayre can provide. Oh, hello, Bingus, nice of you to join us.”

Bairdyn rushes to Ian, concern written all over his face, “Hey what is up with this place. They have githyanki riding around in carriages?” Ian’s eyes open wide at attention and he remarks, “Stained glass?”

“Yes, that’s right.” says Bairdyn.

"Oh, that is Telicanthus, I had forgotten to mention him. He’s been here a long time, as long as I recall. He is a friend of my father, and almost everyone else who is important here.”

“That is just fine and dandy,” says Bhenedict, “As long as he’s buying he is okay with me. We are off for the ‘River Jewel’, have you heard of that.”

“It is the finest inn in the entire city, with prices to match,” responds Ian.

“The food?” inquiries Bhenedict.

“The chefs are renowned for truly delicious meals,” responds Ian.

“That’s what I hoped you would say.” concludes the dwarf.

“I will see to Arryk’s well-being, and I will meet you later at the inn tonight,” answers Ian, “Just follow the broad, paved streets of the University. You will see some academic buildings and then pass a few marble statues ‘the long-dead deans.’ When you top the hill head down toward the central fork of the river, follow the river northwest into the Glassworks and it will take you right to the door of the River Jewel.”

Rikar at SayreIan departs leaving Bairdyn, Bhenedict, Vani, Eoffram, and Bingus, who followed by Odos, Beezil and Dak’kon approach the gate together. They are surprised when the see Rikar approaching from the crowd as the drow removes his dark concealing cloak.

“A pleasant surprise to see you again. What bring to Sayre, the meeting perhaps?” asks Rikar.

Odos turns his attention to Eoffram who reveals nothing in his expression then turns to the others seeing the same blank expression until Vani speaks up, "This is Rikar, we met him upon the Sarshan’s tower when he kidnapped Ssarina.”

“Nonsense, I merely facilitated her return and helped you defeat Sarshan, of course,” replies the drow.

“Oh, that’s right, he took Shaden too,” replies Vani. “Bingus was there, he’ll tell you.”

“And don’t forget Finellior,” adds Rikar. “He was with us too, and he is staying with me now within Sayre. He will be happy to see you all.”

“I came here with Fin, earlier today. He knew you would be showing up. He saved me a lot of gold. That ritual the Red Wizard sold us is too expensive. At least I know who has all the gold now, kings, lords, leprechauns and ritualists … and dwarves, can’t forget them.” adds Bingus.

As they near the bridge the guards call out, “Their kind isn’t welcome here,” indicating the githzerai. The guards impede the githzerai’s progress, blocking them and turning them away at the gate. It is immediately evident to Eoffram that the githzerai would not be helped by the curt and now angry attitude of their leader Odos. Equally clear, the city guards meant to refuse the githzerai entry and were preventing them from crossing the bridge and their attitude was extremely rude, worse even than Odos‘s own. Rikar was momentary forgotten as this new difficulty came to a head.

“What is this, you mean to refuse our guests entry, do you know who we are?” asked Eoffram of the guards.

Rikar’s glance carried beyond the gate where he spied Telicanthus watching from his carriage window as he passed by the gate into Sayre. In Rikar opinion the githyanki’s expression is one of amusement.

Eoffram continues, "We are the heroes of the Elsir Vale, your governor’s son is our companion. These refugees are our honored guests they will be shown every courtesy or your lord will hear otherwise, do I make my meaning clear?”

Rikar adds, "Viscount Sidgevin will also be displeased, and I can’t say that he would wait for your lord’s edict about your performance here.”

“Forgive our intrusion masters, we meant no disrespect. Our concern was for your guests, they will find more welcome within Riverdown at the lower gate, there is a sanctuary set-up for them there. With your protection they may cross. Our thanks lords.” responds the guard snarkily.

Together the two groups Vale heroes of githzerai cross the bridge, entering Sayre. Once they cross Odos announces, “You have my thanks, your mission is complete. Thank you for your assistance at Akma’ad and also in escorting me here. May your journey be everything your deserve, which by my according should be great indeed. We must part company now. We must make our way to Kark’din, the Low Sanctuary within Riverdown. There are others of ‘our kind’ there. Come and see us if you would learn how this, your world treats us. You have my appreciation. There may yet be hope among you.”

“May I accompany you Master Odos?” asks Rikar.

“Your company would be welcome,” answers the elder githzerai.

“And I will join you too,” interjects Vani.

Back Home:

Entering the city on his own with Arryk the Black, Ian quickly rents a carriage and heads to the Governor’s Palace in Prospect Hill without delay. He is welcomed by his father’s personal guard Ian and quickly ushered through the gate with his guest. From there is a short jaunt to the palace.

Lady TorranceThe palace was build more for appearance then defense. It featured beautifully adorned spiraled towers with elegant trestles and magnificent iron works. The palace was set on a grand, manicured property that featured the most beautiful gardens and orchards within the city. Fresh blossoms decorated young cherry trees that lined either side of the cobblestone walk leading to the palace proper. The trees shaded the benches set there. As Ian approached he came upon his step-mother, the Lady Catherine Torrance seated there taking in the afternoons sun. She was a stunningly beautiful human, barely older than Ian himself and her beauty was matched by her wit. She was every bit as sharp as her husband, maybe more so, but her words could cut like a knife. She was as much a trophy as the palace itself. Her normally polite and informal banter usually served well to hide the purpose of her piercing, meaningful inquiries; she kept a light laugh and a quick smile in her arsenal for most of her visitors, but Ian was never among them. She had a way of making it instantly clear that she felt Ian’s presence an unwelcome irritant, an infected boil, at best a distraction from her perfect life and the business at hand. Given that the coalition meeting set on the morrow, Ian wasn‘t surprise when her when her attitude chilled at his approach.

“What are you doing here now? Is it just because of the importance of the occasion at hand or have you come to break something new?”

“In truth Lady Catherine, I have brought a guest for the meeting, Most Exalted Odos from the House of Reprisal and a fine gentleman, the Knight, Arryk the Black, a hero of the attack of the Red Hand,” responds Ian.

“Red Hand? What matter is that now, is that he in that carriage?” demands the Catherine.

Arryk the Black looks out the window of the carriage, “Begging your pardon, Lady, I am. Ordinarily I would stand to greet you, but recent injury has slowed me. Please allow me to rectify the situation. I would be happy to regale you with astonishing tales of my youth, some of which might even be factual but I mean no imposition upon you. Don’t allow me to interrupt your thoughts my lady.”

Taken aback by the warrior’s charm, Catherine’s demeanor softens,. “My apologies Sir, I did not know Ian had brought a guest. Be assured you are welcome here.” She calls out to a servant girl ordering her to make preparations for the old warrior’s care before walking near enough to Ian to whisper within his ear.

“And what of the other you mentioned?” she asks.

“He is only the most important githzerai left within the world,” answers Ian.

“Fine another beggar come to suckle upon Sayre’s tit … wonderful. Whatever your business is here be quick about it and be on your way. I won’t have you interfering with your father’s important business on this occasion. Do I make myself clear?”

Leaving Arryk in his mother’s care Ian nods and leaves to meet with the others at the River Jewel.

The Githzerai Debate:

Back at the inn, Bhenedict, Bairdyn, Bingus and Eoffram are treated to luxurious bathes service by friendly, attractive attendants. Eoffram asks for and receives three attendants for himself, a blond, a brunette and a fiery red-head with the pale, alabaster tone of the island. The bathes are followed by a delicious meal, each course of which is better than the last, tiger prawns with pancetta and aioli … a mache salad with apple, brie and a mustard vinaigrette … a roast rack of lamb, bathed in mint oil. All served with elegant wines. Just as desserts are served, a street urchin arrives carrying a message from Odos requesting the heroes immediate presence at Kark’din, the Low Sanctuary that housed the githzerai refugees in Sayre.

Ian arrives just as the party is walking out of the inn in response to Odos request. Together with Ian they follow the street urchin traveling along the east fork of the Singing River southward bringing them into Riverdown. The quality of the buildings begins to degrade quickly once they pass the university, and soon an oily mildew begins to cover the stone walls caused by the constant mist of the nearby waterfall which fills the air with moisture. Day fades as the march through streets filled with less wealthy individuals hurrying on errands, and packs of unsupervised children, stray dogs, and people of questionable repute. They notice an increasing number of beggars, indigents living in Riverdown, and the heroes their eyes upon them. Strangely enough, none of the beggars approach them. Eventually, they arrive at the Plaza of Vision, an open area in Riverdown only accessible by winding through back alleys that branch off of the tertiary streets. It’s an isolated and dark plaza surrounded by abandoned and rotting warehouses. A corroding statue of a skyward-staring Lord Ishtar stands in an empty fountain in the middle of the square. A beggar stands upon the fountain’s lip doing his best to fill the basin. When the urchin points out Kark’din the heroes are disgusted to find it to be a rundown red building alongside the plaza, appalled the Vale’s heroes knock upon the door.

The door is opened by Dak’kon. The interior of the small build is depressing. It is approximately thirty-five feet by twenty-five feet of floor space partially covered by two large piles of crumbled masonry leftovers of a gaping hole in the ceiling of the second floor. All about the open floor space is occupied by sleeping blankets made of discarded rags and moth-eaten pelts. There eight githzerai lie attempting to rest on the dew moistened floor. A stairway rises to the second level. Before they can proceed Dak’kon asks them all to please remove their boots and wash their feet in a near useless attempt to keep the area clean. As the heroes comply they over hear a heated discussion in the githzerai deep speech issuing from the second floor above.

ChendOdosRising to the second floor they find it to be much like the first, a darkened room, candle-lit, only this floor having a hole in the center of floor and even more of the sleeping pallets. Within the chamber they find four githzerai involved in the debate they overheard from below.

Most Exalted Odos from the House of Reprisal: Now that he had some time to calm down after the siege of Akma’ad, the elder appeared to have had his anger renewed by to condition of the githzeria sanctuary and the harsh welcome at the gate.. Gal’ott: A young githzerai leader of fiery temper and great pride. Appeared to agree with Odos, he too was clearly Azitttired of being mistreated. Azitt: An even younger, female githzerai, seemed to disagree, she was calling for calm and Gal'ottpatience. And Chend: An elderly githzerai who appears to favor leaving the humans and the githyanki to their war. He was arguing that they should leave the plane until the war is decided, then deal with the survivors. Odos was paying clear deference to Chend opinion, showing respect in the Elder’s elder’s views. As the party enters, Odos speaks to them in the common tongue. “There is a guest awaiting you upon the third floor. Beezil see that the floor is cleared for our guests.”

After a ten githzerai are ushered from the third floor, the party climbs the last set of stairs to the top floor of the sanctuary. There in the corner surrounded by sleeping pallets there is a desk. Seated at the desk are three figures, Vani, Rikar and the deva Amyria.

At first they don’t recognize her through the heavy floor length cloak, the crown-like hat, and a dark veil she wears but Amyria quickly and warmly greets them announcing herself, very obviously pleased to see Brindol’s heroes. Amyria

“I have spent a great deal of time in the weeks since we parted seeking out the extent of the githyanki invasion. In the process, I have established connections in most of the cities nearby. And in so doing I have learned that githyanki attacks have come at the worst of times for the defenses of nearly every region in which they have attacked. And thus far, it has only been the Elsir Vale successfully defended; the Vale has been spared—at least thus far—thanks to your action. The defeat of General Zithiruun remains our only victory but it is only a matter of time until the githyanki try again.”

Vani offers, “Bring them on, the more the merrier, we will blast them all out of existence, you should have seen us a Akma’ad.”

Amyria nods in acknowledgement and continues, “I have an agent in the household of Lord Torrance who is suspicious of the governor’s ties to Lord Telicanthus. He is a githyanki, whom I met at an event here just a week ago. I am embarrassed by my feelings, he seems genuine enough, but a githyanki operating so openly seems all to convenient … it feels wrong.”

Ian inquiries, “A contact in the governor’s household, really … I am his son, he would say his bastard son and appears your contacts are better than my own.”

Again the deva continues, “I have learned that two leaders in other nearby cities were seeking out allies. They spoke of forming a concrete alliance—a Coalition—between all the besieged communities, city-states, and regions. We will help them all, and in turn we might gain their aid. I have organized a war council. We will hold our first meeting in Sayre in the morning. I myself have little more than a voice in the proceeding given that I have no home community. I will represents only myself at tomorrows meeting, but I am fueled my faith, Bahamut guides me. We must not fail. I am invited to the proceeding because I organized the event and I chose Sayre as the site of the meeting because, like Master Odos. I suspect that the githyanki have some means of communication that surpasses any sort of magic that the members of the Coalition have imagined. The githyanki seem able to react almost instantaneously to any threats that marshals to meet them, and they are able to coordinate their strikes unerringly especially when we are vulnerable. Only the Elsir Vale has had any luck defending against the attacks.”

“Speaking of the Vale, shouldn’t we be getting back there?” asks Bhenedict.“We cannot succeed if we allow the others to falter, even here and now we are at risk. The githzerai below have been debating a dangerous path that might further imperil both themselves and our ultimate success. I have even tried to get to the Mystic Isle nation of Nefelus, to come to our aid us but there has been no response, and shipping has dropped to a standstill. The knowledge of magic possessed by the sages of Nefelus is unsurpassed within Klarn, at least here in Sayre, the University is a worthy rival. I hope to convince the war council that they must ask the scholars of the University to turn all their efforts toward uncovering the nature of the githyanki’s communication network. But first we must find a way to calm master Odos. Please help me convince him here now before it is too late.”

Ian heads downstairs and approaches Odos who is himself surrounded by the three other githzerai, beyond them a larger crowd of githzerai refugees gather surrounding them. The young female seems to be carrying the majority of the crowd with her but she was on the losing side of the discussion with Gal’ott, Chend and Odos all of whom provide opposing views. As Ian listens, the gold ringlet he wear upon his head, Karrak-dur, rings out clearly in the bard’s mind mixing with Ian’s own thoughts.

‘Let’s challenge this mighty Odos in mental combat. Oh, I long for the taste of battle, there is nothing like the thrill of a psychic duel. We can take him, he can not resist our combined power! Quiet! Oh, but this is our moment, the time is now upon us, not since Shankahram have I sensed such power, such clarity of thought. Tell me something useful, what are they thinking? … So now you want my help, is that the way it … after you have ignored me for so long. Never mind … No, have patience, I will tell you, just make it worthwhile, what do you offer? Is it worth a week? Allow me to tend to affairs of my own. You might even find it enlightening. Very well, but only if you deliver. Bah, as if that was even a question. Now let me see … Ah, yes … I’ve got it, very well … just a little more. Hurry! Easy, there are four of them, but of course they’re distracted, that helps … The young male, ‘Gal’ott’ is fiery, and tired of being mistreated by the other races … (ah, inferior races) … oh, and he is so right about that. He wants to kill the glassmaker now … ‘Telicanthus is his name’. I can’t say that I blame him. Less of your opinion please. Azitt, the female is quite close to Amyria. She harkens back to a time the githzerai were not mistreated and she is hopeful that those days might return. Naïve, the idealistic wanderings of a weak, foolish young mind. Focus! Unfortunately many of the githzerai agree with her and she has been her longer than Gal’ott. But, Odos ah … he’s strong, his mind is blocked. I am getting only the surface thought, he shields himself behind a wall of seething anger. He favors Gal’ott, but he respects Chend far more. Chend is the old one, older even than Odos. Chend longs to leave this place. He longs to return to their home before he dies, to bathe in the Elemental Chaos once more.’

Closing down his mind, Ian speaks out, “Master Odos, please excuse my intrusion but perhaps you can enlighten me … I have believed that a closed mind and harsh feelings were a determent to true understanding.” Odos replies, “By stilling the thoughts and detaching from feelings one can achieve true Awareness but to understand Eternity you must become one with your true self and exist in the reality of the moment.”

“Does not the current circumstance require understanding if we are to be true to ourselves?” inquiries Ian.

Responding to Ian, Odos offers. “My individual calling is reprisal … who among your people assisted us? How is this now our fight? I see no reason why we should not just leave the mortal realm to its own devices, and position ourselves to attack the githyanki once they are weakened from your world’s conquest. I fail to see how you can convince me otherwise, but I am willing to listen to your arguments.”Ian states, “We your world and my own now intersect. Klarn, that which you yourselves have called home until most recently are certainly stronger together than apart. How much so I can’t say but the sum is greater than the parts. Your people have battled the githyanki since the beginning of days, and we are but babes is a comparative sense, yet in all your previous experiences have you tasted victory? Have you been so successful in your campaign that you would run now?”Fury lights in Odos eyes.

Ian continues, “Is it any less important for you to resist your enemy here and now? Have you not trained to bring out order from chaos?”

Regaining his composure, Odos replies, “We do so by picking the time and place of our battles.”

“True, no doubt, true, I am confident you perceive value the wisdom of proper timing and protocol and so realize that if Telicanthus were to be assassinated what might happen to your people and their reputation here? Innately, you understand what would be said about them. Even here laws tend to punish the guilty, so with proper action, patience and assistance on our part Telicanthus will likely be publicly humiliated when he is exposed, whereas simply murdering he is now perceived as a beloved figure would only cause greater hatred and racism towards his attackers. Were that to be the githzerai it would paint a false, unflattering image that would not serve our purposes.” Concluding Ian says, “Perhaps you should at least hear out this Coalition before you determine your course?” Quickly, with a gesture Odos quiets the fractious githzerai forbidding Gal’ott from taking any immediate action against Telicanthus, uniting the githzerai with his words. Giving Ian a final hard blind-eyed look, Odos says, “I do not promise you more than a single week. Were that the rest of your people as impressive as yourself this world, Klarn might have hope. As for me I have little left for this world. Both your words and your wit are sharp, you will have need of both blades before this is over.”

Ian bows deeply, and says, “If I may intrude once more Master, Amyria requests your assistance up upon the third floor.” .

When the climb the stairs they find Amyria waiting in her full attire standing patiently within the darkened corner of the third floor. As Odos and the other githzerai leaders enter she also bows respectfully.“Great Master, I have one other reason for coming to Sayre, the primary reason I choose this place. I had a dream recently, a dream that had the weight of significance behind it. May I recount it for you?” asks the deva.

“Proceed.” responds the Elder.

“The dream …”, her eyes grow distant and her voice as softens like a fall of downy feathers as she speaks …

“In my dream I was standing in the midst of raw elements. Waves crashed around me and fires flared, and I was looking down through clouds onto a dark blue night’s sky. Stretching across the sky was a giant spider’s web that was woven between planes. It was silver and sparkled with stars, and at the end of each web line was a githyanki. As each githyanki spoke, the web sparkled, and a fat spider in the middle listened to everything that anyone said. The spider was beautiful, but you could tell it was evil, just like the people talking through it. It scuttled around, fixing frayed lines and tossing out new lines to new people. Most were githyanki, but some were not. One of the lines went to a githzerai.” Amyria looks troubled. “I looked harder at the spider, and I knew it was here in Sayre. I could see the city around it. So I came here. I think someone in Sayre is helping the githyanki, but we don’t know for sure who it is, although we have our suspicions. And we don’t have an easy answer about what to do about it.”

“Of course we do. As I said before, we find your spider. We find him and kill him. We kill him and return to our homes.” offers Gal’ott.

To which Amyria replies: “You think that’s going to solve the problem, Gal’ott? We all know of whom you speak. And he is politically connected to everyone who could help the githzerai! Kill him now and you will be executed as murderers and traitors. You must abide by Odos’s decision and prove what the spider is up to. Discrediting him is the only way to help the githzerai.”

Gal’ott bows his head and says: “Whether I would comply with Odos was never in doubt. One week is what you have. After that time, me and those who stand with me will take matters into their own hands.”Gal’ott stands tall, nods to Odos and Azitt, and departs with no further comment.

The rest of the githzerai excuse themselves soon after Gal’ott leaves. As they leave, Amyria seats herself and thanks each of the heroes individually.“Already your presence here has begun to heal the divide in the githzerai community. I am sorry for the trouble I bring you but I must ask for your continued help in convincing Odos that the githzerai should stay in Sayre long enough to solve the riddle of my dream. I believe that together we can expose Telicanthus publicly instead of murdering him without proof of his wrong doing. We yet need to convince Odos to join our Coalition. I am hoping you will all agree to attend the Coalition meeting as my guests. You will be free to speak your mind and I expect your words will carry weight given the breath of your experiences. We can use your influence to sway the Coalition, more that anyone you have earned their respect. We will have no vote, so your words will fuel the debate to come. That Odos has decided that Telicanthus should be investigated before taking more extreme measures means that we have already earned an important victory here today.”

Excusing herself Amyria finishes, “I must rest and ready myself for the meeting tomorrow morning. You should do the same. I will come for you early on the morrow at the River Jewel. Go now, find what peace you may. Pray if you have within yourself to do so. You have my thanks.”