The Compass Rose

Session 68 - Sept. 4/14
I'll listen to you. It doesn't mean I have to like it...
Group 2

The battle with Sohrab continues. Bilya dispels Cornelius’ forceful hand. Fatima slips into the main room, invisible. She flies up to the ceiling where she sees more wights crawling outside along the surface of the dome. Still nauseated from the Stinking Cloud, Fatima becomes visible, pretending that she is well. She tells Sohrab that all this fighting is unnecessary and that she would love to hear about his plan. The wights continue to hold Cornelius and Io.

The Persistant Image continues. It depicts a tribe of people on a great plain, looking to the sky. A huge star is falling toward them. The scene then cuts to a large city, with a high central tower. A burning orange-red star can be seen above, falling.

Sorhab asks “Do you know what this means?” Fatima replies “I would much rather hear what you have to teach on this.” A rumble is heard from deep inside the pit. The dragon snorts.

Sohrab welcomes them to the ancient city of Tumaraa – once capitol of the southern tribes of the Labreyan people.

It was constructed inside the dormant volcano on this island in homage to the spirits of fire. Some two thousand years ago, a large fragment of the falling star, that caused the “one hundred year winter”, struck the city. Many died before they could escape the city, but not before a riot ensued. King Nanui and Queen Oriata escaped the wrath of the mob, taking refuge on a nearby island. Unbeknownst to their people, the monarchs had become vampires, years earlier. A priest hid them in a temple for months after the star struck. He ultimately betrayed them by trapping them beneath the earth, under running water. They were imprisoned for nearly 2000 years, until a group of agents of the Stars’ Children unwittingly released them. The group managed to kill them and plundered their royal artifacts.

Sohrab asks the group if they know what the source of magic is. Fatima explains that it comes from the star fragments. He confirms that is indeed true for arcane magic. He continues.

So called “divine magic”, contrary to what the priests say, derives from the power of the planet herself. It is “earth magic”, more correctly. The two sources of magic, from earth and star, remained separate until 2000 years ago, when the star fell. Less than 300 yards below them is a very large piece of the star fragment. It sits just above a massive lava bed. If the two sources of magic were to come into contact with each other, a great reaction would take place – with the release of almost unlimited power. My work has caused the fragment to slip further down toward the lava. This close proximity has caused the increase in storms and high level magic spells have become somewhat unpredictable because of it. But you probably believe that this falling star in the sky is the biggest threat to you.

He turns to the image over the pit. The scene now focuses on the orange-red star in the sky. “Is this what you fear?” The star grows as your view gets closer and closer to it. The star is a huge ball of fire with eddies and explosions on its surface. But the star is far away from their planet, Ardia, not overhead as it first appeared. Sohrab says:

The star is slowly destroying itself and will explode in perhaps hundreds of years. It would be a grave threat to this world, were it not that it is trillions of miles away from here.

Sohrab laughs.

It is amazing how willingly some will believe a lie if it suits their interests. Some use the lie to acquire power and some to consolidate that which they already possess. It was easy to convince the leader of these ‘Children of Zepha’ that it was a falling star when he understood what kind of power he could gain from it. The Church of Zaur was just as easily swayed.

The Stars’ Children were somewhat more difficult to convince. Gladly, the Children of Zepha made sure that the skeptics were eliminated. They could have traveled to the star to confirm its path. But they decided against it, since my activities here made such travel highly dangerous to them. Others, like the Ulgar, had been expecting a star to fall to the ground for some time and misread the signs.

In fact, a star will strike this world much sooner than would occur naturally, thanks to several nodes that your people built centuries ago to attract the stars. Even so, it will not happen again for thousands of years.

It has been most useful as a distraction from what I intend. The Children of Zepha were also very helpful for obtaining some of the artifacts I needed to begin my plan. Only a few things remain to be done, before it is ready…

Smiling, Sohrab waves his arms to dismiss an illusion that had been concealing the perimeter of the room. Many thin, yellow tubes can be seen emerging from the sides of the pit, leading to four seven foot tall glass and metal “pods” set into the wall, equidistant form each other. Two of the pods are empty. The other two contain a cloudy liquid. Inside one, a body floats – that of a woman. Cornelius recognizes her as a member of the Stars’ Children, but is unsure of her name. The other pod contains the body of a man – that of Sohrab!

The other “Sohrab” laughs again. Along the northern wall stands a young Labreyan woman who must have been concealed by the illusion. She steps forward, also smiling. Io, Fatima, and Cornelius recognize her as the woman who was sentenced to death many years ago, when they were in the bodies of the children. Cornelius and Io remember that her name is Eeva.

Still chuckling, “Sohrab” says “You are probably wondering who I am. Then, the illusion on him dissolves. The group sees a foul undead creature before them – a lich! The creature introduces himself as ”/characters/moratu" class=“wiki-content-link”>Moratu.

He goes on.

I have spent centuries hiding from the people that wished me dead, simply because of my beliefs. My wife (he looks to Eeva) was murdered by them, just for being MY wife. Now, justice shall be served upon them! The power of earth and star magic shall combine. This now dormant volcano will be so no longer! The great power of the magic will unleash an explosion, the likes of which has never been seen or heard. It will destroy the life on these islands and send the planet into another age of ice – this time for 1000 years!

Whoever survives, shall kneel before their new king and queen. Our bodies restored, we shall be the wielders of the only magic remaining to this world!

Moratu points to the empty pods and says “I just need two more volunteers…”

The illusion on Bilya also disappears, his mummified body now apparent. Cornelius estimates that he could not have been in this state for more than a few weeks. Fatima says “I don’t really like your plan Mr. Lich” and shoots a ray at the container holding the real Sohrab, severely damaging it.

The battle resumes. Io tries to break free. She manages to further damage Sohrab’s vessel, but is soon killed by the wights. Pascal also falls but is able to get off a burst positive energy first, which damages the undead, including Moratu. The dragon launches a blast of magma at Cornelius and Fatima but catches Bilya, the mummy, also.

Moratu touches Cornelius with his skeletal hand and paralyzes him. Likewise, Eeva touches Fatima, causing her to fall asleep. The party members dead or immobilized, Moratu orders his wight servants to get the Token of Galus from Io’s body. He smiles, saying that the other tokens will arrive shortly – he will need them to capture the magical power from the reaction.

The bodies of Cornelius and Fatima are each dragged to an empty pod, to be placed within. At that moment, a dark, swirling vortex appears by the eastern door of the room. As the vortex fades, a ghostly figure appears beside a large wardrobe.

The figure says "“Lust for revenge gives you power, Moratu. So does it to your enemies!” In response, Moratu quips “Thank you, Alaad. You have brought me what I have been waiting for. Just as expected.” Alaad moves to attack Moratu.

Group 1

Inside the wardrobe laboratory, the other party prepares for combat. Quintin uses a newly discovered alchemy to divine that they will soon face an ancient undead enemy. As they emerge one by one from the wardrobe, they see the battle scene. Not having acted yet, the group’s plans are as follows:

  • Murad will summon an ally
  • Quintin will throw 4 holy bombs
  • Arah will cast Piller of Life
  • Bertom will attack the mummy
Session 67 - Aug. 8/14
I don't need to hear your speech, you're dog meat...
Group 1

The party questions the ghostly figure and learns what he means by “All of your possessions.” Murad contacts Maddy on The Walrus and asks her to bring the ship nearer the island. Murad, as a Roc, gathers Quintin’s wardrobe laboratory and tries to convince Maddy to come with him. She is touched by his concern, but declines. Cendrik offers to come along. Murad gives him a magical dagger and armour that they recovered in their recent battle with the fungal creatures.

Murad flies Cendrim and the wardrobe bring the wardrobe to the node, where the ghost and the rest of the group awaits. The ghost, impatient and appearing to want vengeance of some sort, tells them to enter the wardrobe. With some reluctance, they do. Quintin updates the High Archmage and Navin. The rest of the group has some wine and waits inside the lab. They hear the swirl of wind outside and feel the surge of magical energy within. After a few moments, it subsides.

Group 2

Sohrab asks the party to enter the room: “Do you not wish to see what will happen to your world?” Io and Gere Raimo move to flank Sohrab, as the rest of the party waits to see what happens. The dragon sits beside Sohrab, watching the party closely.

Io attempts to intimidate Sohrab. “Why do you delay? I will flay all the flesh from your body!”. Surprisingly, he is momentarily shaken by her words.

Undetered, Sohrab uses a Persistent Image spell to tell a story. He creates an image, floating over the open pit. The party can see a group of Northern Ashtarean tribesmen, likely from a long ago time, on an autumn plain, looking up a the the sky. They see a red-hot burning star far overhead, falling to the planet…

Suddenly, Io and Gere attack Sohrab simultaneously. The dragon was ready for this and attacks Io. Fatima casts Feeblemind on Sohrab, but he resists its effects. Cornelius casts Forceful Hand and tries to push Sohrab into the pit, but he is able to resist his spell as well.

Ilio pleads with the group to stop and listen to what Sohrab has to say. Sohrab casts Mass Hold Person, paralyzing all but Io, Bilya, and Fatima, and her hellhound minions.
Io tries to grapple Sohrab and pull him into the pit but is unable to. One of the hellhounds is able to knock him to the ground, causing his spell to fizzle.

The dragon continues to pummel Io, but Io is able to knock Sohrab into the pit. The hellhounds jump into the pit after him. The dragon knocks Io unconscious and begins to attack Gere. Fatima, in the adjoining room with Cornelius, hears running down the corridor towards them. She turns invisible just as several dread wights rush into both rooms. Fatima grabs Cornelius and flies to the ceiling of the room to evade the wights.

Sohrab uses Stoneshape to open a doorway between the large domed room and the small room with Fatima and Cornelius. He then orders the wights and the dragon to kill Pascal and Gere, but to leave Io alive, for now…

Round 8
Pascal (Held)
Cornelius (held)
Forceful hand

Session 66 - July 28/14
Is that something sparkling in this bag? I think I'll take it!

Coming up the path, Rod and Quintin see that is a privateer crewman from the Walrus, named Nathan. Unsure of his intentions, Rod sneaks around behind him just in case. The man says that Maddy sent him to offer assistance. Rod and Murad sense that he is lying. Rod is quick to hit him from behind, knocking him unconscious. Just then, Murad sees a glimmering shape in the sky over the stone. A caster appears and shoots a Disintegrate ray at the stone, destroying part of it. Arah uses Dispel Magic to dispel his Fly, causing him to crash to the ground. Bob and the other treants pound him into the dirt.

Murad and Rod secure the captives. Murad breaks the hands of the sorcerer to prevent casting as Rod breaks the hands of the sailor, just because. Arah casts a Banishment spell tied to a Glyph of Warding on the stone. She then rests to regain her spells.

Quintin and Rod search the forested area around the stone. Quintin finds a sack in the bushes and brings it back to be examined. Rod sees a glint near the stone and calls Quintin over to look at it. It seems to be some kind of pearl, a rather large one, carved into the likeness of a sea turtle. Murad says it was worn by his former master, Matahi, who has not seen for severla years, since before he left for Ashtar. Quintin asks Murad if he is sure that his master is dead. Murad is not certain. He tries sending him a message, suing the Crystal of Communication, but gets no response.

Searching the bodies of both spellcasters (the alive, human one and the dead, fungal one) they see that they both bear the tattoo of the Stars’ Children and wear the suicide ring of the Children of Zepha. They remove several items of magic, including what appears to be a Hat of Disguise, from the sailor, Nathan. He appears to be another. The party recognizes him to be Delthorne, the man who guided the group to the Tower of Stars when they first arrived in Llantry. Quintin sends a message to the High Archmage, who refers him to Navin, his assistant. Navin explains that Delthorne is, in fact, an agent of the Stars’ Children, undercover. He was following a member of the Children of Zepha, presumably the caster that they just subdued.

Delthorne looks at his broken hands. Murad looks at Rod who shrugs and says, “What? It was ok for you to do it, and not me?” Murad replies, “Well, I didn’t do it to our allies!” They update Delthorne and show him the fourth node.

The casters in the group try to make out what the runes mean. Arah is certain the symbols represent the four gods of Ardia – Galus, Valeria, Fira, and Zaur. Rod figures out that the language used is Saerean, from the ancient Saerean Empire of Ashtar. Murad touches the symbol of Zaur and it glows a faint yellow. Arah casts Make Whole on the node, which repairs some of the damage dealt by the sorcerer. Delthorne moves to study the stone. Rod, still suspicious, warns him not to try anything funny.

Murad informs Quintin and Delthorne about the Coorish attack on Llantry. He explains how they must have used magic to transport the Leonian fleet past the blockade and into the Silent Sea, for a surprise attack. Delthorne believes that several “shards” would have had to have been used to conduct such a maneuver. He also tells that the Laboratory of the High Alchemists was destroyed by an explosion and that High Alchemist Heyrod was killed in the attack.

Delthorne explains that the High Archmage set a trap for one of the other Archmages, using the Crystal of Communication as bait. When the party was being briefed for their current mission, both Archmages Celia Haqar and Yül Akafar were present (their images projected from their respective capitols). They were the only ones that knew about the Crystal. The agent that they just apprehended also knew about the crystal. Based on this and other information, the High Archmage determined that Archmage Akafar is the leader of the Children of Zepha.

Rod walks over to the node and touches the token of Valarea to it’s corresponding symbol, to no effect. Off in the woods, Quintin sends a message to the High Alchemist’s daughter, Vina, to see if she is alright. She responds that she is alive, but not allowed to communicate on order of the High Archmage.

The groupd tries different combinations of pressing the runes to activate the node. By pressing the runes in quick succession, in the order of Galus, Valeria, Fira, Zaur, the runes glow in unison for a short time. Murad sends a message to Gralius Kurn. He responds that all nodes are active. The elves in Kayemba and the Stars’ Children agents in the Eastern lands have secured their respective nodes and found them to be active, though partly eroded by monstrous plants. The group leading the effort to secure the node in northern Lettan was found to have an imposter. An agent of the Children of Zepha was impersonating their leader, Gere Raimo. Nevertheless, their node is secure and active.

The High Archmage tells them to protect the node, and await further instruction as he attempts to harness the power of the nodes through the Tower of Stars. The group starts casting several spells to protect the node. After more than an hour, the runes of the node start to glow and pulsate slowly.

Rod whispers to Murad in Labreyan that he should check with “their friend under the mountain”. Murad contacts Rolston Galfant and gets a response that the falling star seems to be getting closer and could hit within days. They look into the twilight sky to see the star near the constellation of Zepha is indeed bigger than when they last looked.

Gralius Kurn contacts the group with the news that the nodes were designed to attract stars. The nodes cannot likely be used to repel the star. They will need several weeks to study them to see if they can be appropriately modified. It is not likely that they have that much time before the star hits.

Rod feels that the situation is wrong and voices this concern. Quintin suggests that they should try to push the runes in reverse order and the node powers down. They let Kurn know. He says that he will update them shortly.

Suddenly a ghostly image of a man appears above the centre of the stone. They recognize it to be the strange Labreyan man that they encounctered in the underground temple on Calmuth Island. He says, in an old form of Labreyan: “If you wish to save your people, gather ALL of your possessions, and return here.”

The items collected include:

  • carved pearl (sea turtle) – belonging to Murad’s former master
  • +2 dagger
  • +1 dagger with green prismatic spray poison
  • +4 corrosive burst cutlass
  • +3 moderate fortification studded leather
  • masterwork pistol, 13 rounds of bullets
  • +5 bracers of armour (2)
  • +3 cloak of resistance (2)
  • +6 headband of mental prowess (Wis, Cha)
  • +4 headband of mental superiority (CL16, Perception, Sense Motive)
  • potions: cure serious wounds (6), bear’s endurance (2), haste, protection cold, tongues, hide from undead
  • +3 ring of protection (2)
  • ring of invisibility
  • suicide ring (2)
  • wand of cure serious wounds (23 charges)
  • wand of dispel magic (CL10, 7 charges)
  • bag of gems
Session 65 - July 14/14
A captivating fight.

As the massive fungal creature’s tentacles move in to attack, Rod activates his ring and becomes invisible. Murad, as an air elemental, tosses the privateer captain around in his vortex. Arah casts Freedom of Movement on Bertom of Cuford,. Bertom jumps from the platform on Bob to the ground. He attacks one of the sailors. Bob and the treants smash at the other sialors.

The fungal tendrils rise from the earth and attempt to grab Bertom but fail because of Arah’s spell. They do manage to grapple the treants. Murad summons a massive Roc. He then flies up 150 feet up into the air. He drops the captain and one of the sailors, who fall to their deaths. He then casts Explosive Rot on the fungal creature, causing some of its flesh to die. The Roc attacks the creature but fails to injure it.

Quintin transforms into a large Tunnelroot creature and burrows under the ground to attack the fungus from below. The tendrils fill the earth, but are unable to grab a hold of Quintin, due to his own Freedom of Movement effect. The two smaller treants trample the sailors as they try and grab the Token of Zaur from the dead captain’s body.

Bertom pounds away on the fungal creature but is unable to penetrate it’s skin. The fungus takes control of one of the smaller treants and has it attack the other treant. The fungus seems to regenerates from some of the damage caused by Murad’s spell. Rod jumps down (with style) and grabs the token.

Murad calls down a powerful beam of light on the fungus doing a substantial amount of damage to it. Underground, Quintin uses his Greater Attenuate formula on the creature, causing the metal-like particles in its hide to dissolve. Arah blasts the fungus with a Cone of Cold with little effect.

Rod cuts down the last remaining sailor as he tried to grab the token. Bertom strikes at the fungal creature again with his adamantium weapon and is now able to damage it.

Suddenly a sound of breaking branches can be heard and several plant creatures burst from the under brush. A vine creature releases a cloud of spores among the group. Rod falls under a mind effect and is captivated. he stops what he is doing and seems to be mvoing toward the vine creature. Two other vine creatures grapple him. Rod is then able to break the enchantment and uses his ring to take Gaseous Form and floats away.

Murad flies down and casts anti-plant shield to protect Bertom and himself from the plant creatures. His Roc takes one of the plant creatures, that looks like a willow tree, in it’s claws and flies it up and away. Arah, who is captivated, starts moving towards one of the vine creature. She falls from Bob while trying to climb down form him.

Quintin detonates three force bombs under the creature, blasting a huge hole in its “belly”. Bertom cuts the rest of the creature down with his massive sword. The fungus explodes in a spore cloud, hurting Arah further. Rod flies down and checks on Arah, showing rare tenderness.

Quintin informs the rest of the group that there is a huge stone beneath the creature. Upon further investigation, they find a stone about 15 feet in diameter and foot and a half tall. It appears like it has been worn eroded from above. They presume that this is the fourth node that they seek. Murad and Arah study the node and discover four runes on it, that pulsate slowly, with magic.

Murad sends a message to Archmage Gralius Kurn and Navin, his assistant: “The node is intact, but damaged. A fungus-like creature has been feeding on it for centuries, it seems.” At that moment, they hear a voice, calling from up the path, using the party members’ names. Rod slinks into the forest shadow, just in case…

Session 64 - June 30/14
Crush 'em, Bob!!!

After Murad, as a Roc, drops off the group on the shore of the uncharted island, he attempts to use Liveoak to create a minion for himself. In doing so, he notices that someone or something seems to have control over the plant life on the island and is resisting his attempts to control the oak. Murad overcomes the resistance and creates his new treant companion, “Bob”.

Quintin studies the local wildlife and is puzzled to learn that, although the flora seems to be of a standard temperate variety, there appears to be no animal life, not even insects. Rod searches the beach, being careful to avoid the caustic algae that laps up on the shoreline. He finds several pieces of what seems to be flotsam, completely covered in the algae. Rod calls over Quintin, who carefully scrapes off the algae. The flotsam is cut wood, perhaps parts of a sea vessel. Quintin finds that one of the larger pieces is carved in the image of a peacock. Rod searches the beach further and discovers a path leading to the northwest, into the interior of the island.

Quintin uses and Arcane Eye spell to see where the path leads. After about 100 yards, the narrow trail opens up into an approximately 10 foot wide natural pathway. The eye continues following it. It twists and turns, rises and falls, along a mountain ridge line. About one and a half miles along, the floating eye spots movement in the forest to the right of the path. Quintin commands the eye to investigate. It sees a figure, apparently a man, running further into the forest. Quintin tells the eye to stop, rise above the canopy, and agitate itself, in place. He then relays its location to Murad.

Murad, still in Roc form, flies to where he reckons the eye to be. He finds the eye and dives beneath the canopy of trees to find the man. Murad sees the man, dressed in Ashtarean garb, running. He calls out for him, in Ealduran, to stop. Murad offers to help him. The fleeing man stops for a moment and appears to be listening to Murad’s plea when long, grey and white tendrils spring up form the forest floor and entangle the man. Before he can be dragged beneath the earth, Murad casts a Command Plants spell and convinces the creature to let him go. He then commands the plant to show itself. A circle of tendrils, about 30 feet in diameter, sprouts from the ground, waving themselves in the air. The man decides to escape the trap and runs toward Murad.

Murad offers to fly him back to safety. The man reluctantly agrees. He says that his name is Groot. As Groot is about to “board” onto the Roc’s back, Murad sees that there is something odd about him. His skin is quite pale, with an almost jaundiced tone to it. Murad decides to take the man in his claws instead. They fly back to the beach to meet the others.

Murad presents the rescued man to the others and tells the story of how he was found. The group questions him. He says that he came ashore from the crew of The Peacock and several other ships. Some members of the group recall The Peacock to be the name of Eddy Raffin’s ship. Groot says that their ships were soon eaten away by the algae and that they went inland looking for something, he’s not sure what, on Raffin’s orders. They were beset by the tendril creatures and scattered. Many of them were caught, but he managed to get away. He says that he hasn’t eaten in a few days.

They try to get more information from Groot but he is reluctant to continue. Rod surprises him with his sap and knocks the man unconscious. After some initial outrage at Rod’s seemingly rash action, the group debates what to do next. They cut off his baby finger to study it. The “blood” released is a thick, yellowish substance. Arah examines Groot to find that he seems to not be human per se. He looks human, but is made of some strange material. Quintin believes that he is a type of fungal creature, in the likeness of a man. Arah revives him with a Heal spell. They tell him that they believe him to be a type of plant creature. He denies this. As Murad questions him about how he was attacked by the tendril creatures, he takes in a deep breath and beings to exhale in their direction.

Before he can get out his breath, Rod whips out his spring-loaded dagger and slices into his neck. The man slumps to the ground, dead. Quintin dissects the body to confirm that he is a type of fungal creature. As the group discusses the implications of this, someone notices a ship on the horizon to the southeast. Murad takes the rest of the group aloft to investigate. He commands Bob to guard the dead body.

As they close on the ship, they see that she is Starsinger. Murad circles overhead and calls down to her captain, Garret. He warns of the caustic algae surrounding the island and advises him to turn his ship around. Garret accuses Murad of seeking to claim the island’s best treasure for himself. He ignores Murad’s warning and sails on. Murad flies away with the others, but first tells him to take small boats to the island first, if he is intent on going ashore.

Murad and the others fly back to the beach where Bob is waiting. They watch as Garret and his men row two ship’s boats toward the shore. Garret’s boat brings up the rear. As they approach the ring of algae, Murad uses Control WInds to spin the boats around so that Garret’s enters the algae first. One of the crewmen dips a leather glove into the algae-covered water. The algae clings to the hull of the boat. Murad then reverses the wind to blow them back out into the open water. Within minutes, the boat begins to corrode. As it sinks, the men dive into the water to escape. With a curse, Garret abandons his boat last. The second boat rows over to pick up the swimming men. Murad can hear one of them screaming. He flies over to see that his arms are covered in the algae. Murad take shim back to shore to have Arah tend to his wounds. Once he is healed, Murad returns him to Starsinger. Murad gives Garret an “I told you so”. Garret retorts: “Don’t think I’m not still watching you, Murad”!

After some discussion, the group decides that, due to its extremely unusual nature, this island is the probable location of the fourth magical node. Murad uses Woodshape to make seats and a shooting platform on Bob. They find their spots on the tree creature and he carries them off down the path. Murad uses Locate Animals and Plants to search for the fungal man creatures. He finds nothing within the 1/2 mile radius of the spell’s range. He also looks for the tendril creatures. Murad is shocked to learn that these creatures or creature are everywhere on this island.

Along the path, Bob creates two tree creatures to help him. After almost 4 miles of travel along the path, near the centre of the island, they see a clearing up ahead. Beyond the clearing is a 50 foot diameter “dome” of tightly woven coniferous trees. Using Locate Animals and Plants, Murad detects about fifty of the fungal man creatures in the surrounding forest. He tells the others this, yet they decide to continue along the path approaching the clearing.

As they near the dome, Murad receives a message on the Crystal of Communication. Strangely, the message is from Navin, aide to the High Archmage, Gralius Kurn. He has ill tidings.

Some two days ago, by some treachery, the entire Leonian fleet was sighted in the Silent Sea, 2 miles to the east of the city. The token naval force left behind to defend Llantry’s waters was easily overwhelmed. The remainder of the Queen’s navy had already sailed to the Bay of the Protector to head off the Leonian fleet.

Coorish troops poured out of the ships and are laying siege to the city now. The south city has already fallen. More than half of the Queen’s army had already marched south, some three days ago, to intercept the Brindish.

During the attack, a massive explosion took place at the High Alchemists’ Laboratory. The laboratory itself and several surrounding buildings were destroyed. He regrets to say that the High Alchemist, Heyrod lost his life in the attack as did many other loyal members. They are still uncertain whether the few remaining shards they have stored in the laboratory are intact.

The High Archmage is certain that it was the work of the Children of Zepha and has sequestered himself in the Tower of Stars. He has given the word that the Tower will soon be under attack. Gralius Kurn has dispatched some of their members to use magic in defense of the capitol but is saving most of their remaining resources for the defence of the Tower. He gives the order for their group to expedite their search for the node – there may be little time left before the Tower of Stars is breached and their plan to stop the falling star is foiled.

He must go now to aid the High Archmage. The group should contact him as soon as the node is secure.

Murad responds with a message to Navin that they are close to locating the node. Murad tells the others the bad news.

Before they reach the dome, the fungal man creatures emerge from the forest, surrounding them. Their leader appears to have been a privateer captain. He welcomes them and asks them what their purpose on this island is. Murad replies that they are looking for a magical node that they want to use to prevent the falling star from striking the planet.

The captain says that they would be willing to help them find this node, but they want something in return. He is aware that they carry items of great power – the Tokens. He and his “people” can use the tokens to power the node, so that they can use it as the group intends. The captain asks that, once their task is complete, Murad and his group give them the tokens. They will use them to feed on. He asks to see the tokens.

Murad and the group find the proposal to be reasonable, but don’t fully trust this creature. Murad, Rod, and Arah, show the captain their respective tokens. He requests that they place them on the ground so that he can examine them. The group is apprehensive, but Murad decides to hand his counterpart his Token of Zaur. The captain looks pleased. He steps forward asking for the other tokens.

At this moment, some members of the party recognize another of the fungal privateers to be Antoine Sebourne, one of Maddy’s ex-captains. When the party refuses to hand over the remaining tokens, the leader commands his men to attack.

Murad casts a spell to cause an explosion of rot to rip through the plant creatures. Quintin tosses acid bombs and Rod throws daggers. Bob crushes Sebourne’s skull with his massive, woody fist. Bertom of Cuford guards Arah, waiting for an attack. The sailors try to breathe spore clouds at the party, but they resist the effects.

Sensing that they are losing this battle, the leader flees into the forest. The sailors hack uselessly at the treants, while patches of white tendrils rise from the ground to ensnare them. At that moment, Quintin notices a small, brown insect crawling up his right leg. It is a type of tropical stick insect. He finds it odd that he is seeing it here on this temperate island. Then, before he can react, Quintin watches as the insect transforms into a man.

The man lands on the shooting platform around Bob’s waist. He starts to cast a spell. Bertom, waiting of an attack, comes down hard on the caster with his bastard sword. He slices into the man’s shoulder, disrupting his spell. Rod gets in on the action. As he stabs away, Rod can see that the man has the same pallour as the other sailors. He and Bertom take him down easily.

Murad transforms into an air elemental and chases after the fleeing captain. He finds him trying to enter the dome of trees, which have parted slightly to allow him passage. Murad prevents the captain from getting through by catching him in a whirlwind. Murad is able to sneak a peak inside the dome – he sees a large light grey mass, that is gently pulsating.

Suddenly, the ground vibrates and the trees of the forest begin to sway, though there is no wind. The line of trees forming the dome in front of the party begins to open. As the tightly woven trees part, a rank cloud of moist air spews forth. As the air clears, a pale grey mass, nearly thirty feet tall and at least as wide, pulsates slowly. You feel a growing sense of dread as a writhing tentacle emerges from behind the dome of trees, moving in your direction.

Session 63 - June 16/14
I spots me a Dragon! or Ouch, that burns!
Group 2

The group is recuperating after nearly losing Cornelius to the trapped notebook. Io uses her Spell Scent ability on the notebook to locate the caster of the Sepia Snake Sigil. She determines that the caster is in the large circular room with the deep pit. Cornelius casts Clairvoyance into the room and it, surprisingly, works. He sees the Magma Dragon that they previously encountered hunched near the pit.

Standing in an adjacent room, Pascal uses Stoneshape to make a small hole in the wall to provide line of sight into the dragon’s room. Fatima casts Silent Image to mask the hole. Ilio and Pascal take the east doors while Io and Gere Raimo take the west doors.

Io prepares protections for herself:

  • Purity
  • Resistance
  • Enlarge
  • Bear’s endurance;
  • Magic circle against evil
  • Deathward
  • Flames of the Faithful
  • Weapon of Awe
  • Keen Edge
  • Hunters Eye
  • Battlemind Link (with Gere Raimo)
  • Bane (against dragons)

Fatima provides the whole party with Infernal Healing. Cornelius has Invisibility.

The dragon looks toward the hole made by Cornelius and snorts. Then, out of nowhere, a robed figure appears next to the dragon. It is Sohrab! He opens his arms and says:

Gentlemen, ladies, please come in. Witness the transformation of our planet!

Group 1

In the blink of an eye, the party finds itself still on The Walrus out in the ocean, partly submerged, but the water is kept at bay by the magic bubble of the Submerge Ship spell.

In the distance, to the left of the setting sun, they spot a ship 100 feet in the air falling fast towards the water. Murad thinks fast and, using a Control Water spell, creates a geyser of water under the boat. There is a great crack and heave as the ship hits the water. Fortunately, the column created by Murad lessens the impact of the fall. From this angle, it is clear that the fallen ship is Starsinger.

Quintin and Murad change into water elementals, dive into the water, and begin looking for the third ship, Bilgerat.

The Walrus pulls alongside Starsinger. They learn that she is not at risk of sinking, but she is going to need repairs to the hull and main mast before resuming their journey. Arah and Bertom of Cuford aid the injured crewmen.

After hours of searching to no avail, Quintin realizes that they can use the Crystal of Communication, to contact Brenn, the captain of Bilgerat. They do and figure out where his ship is located. Murad flies over to Bilgerat and guides her back to the other ships.

Later that evening, Murad and Maddy retire to her cabin. After much fun, she tells the tale of how the Starbirth Sea got its name.

Some 12000 years ago, it is believed, the first star in the sky, Ireul, appeared over this sea.

Maddy finds it unbelievable that their world would be older than the stars. She considers it merely a story.

With the aid of Arah’s magic, it takes just more than a day to repair Starsinger enough so that she can sail safely. Their small fleet sets out to the northwest, in search of the fourth node. After close to a week at sea, Murad, flying ahead as a seabird, spots land. He gets a closer look and sees that it is a small temperate island. He notices that the entire shoreline is ringed in a yellow-green algae. Murad returns to The Walrus and tells of what he saw. On Quintin’s request, Murad returns to the island with a glass vial to collect a sample of the algae. Quintin, takes it to his wardrobe alchemy lab to study it. He discovers that the algae is caustic and is slowly dissolving the glass vial.

Murad finds that the algae has a faint magical aura. He attempts to dispel the magic on the algae to see if that will nullify the effects. It seems to do so, but only temporarily.

Murad transforms into a Roc. Quintin, Rod, Arah, and Bertom hop aboard. He flies the group to the island. Maddy keeps the ships at a distance so as not to expose them to the potentially damaging algae surrounding the island.

Session 62 - June 5/14
Getting sloppy with the trap finding boys...

The party decides to rest for an hour for Pascal to regain his spells. He uses Restoration to remove the negative effects of the undead attack. Fatima questions Ilio about the history of the Stars’ Children and whether they can work together for a common purpose. Ilio replies that he does not judge them for being members and simply asks that they co-operate to thwart the efforts of the Children of Zepha.

The group resumes their exploration of the palace complex. Pascal enters a long hallway, rather casually looking for traps. On the floor is a faded mosaic depicting various plants, animals and people. Among the animals are fire bats and several dragon lizards that seem to be pursuing the people. As he observes the art, Pascal fails to notice a peculiar stone in the floor and inadvertently steps on it. It sets off a deafening sound. Most of the group recovers within a few minutes, but Fatima is temporally deafened. Pascal estimates that it will be a few hours before she regains her hearing.

At the western end of the hallway is a set of iron double doors, each with the intertwined, dragon lizards that the group observed previously among the ruined city. Io uses her magical gloves to see beyond the doors. She sees a circular, domed hall with a nearly 20 foot wide pit in its centre. Pascal unlocks the doors and the group enters the room. They find a matching pair of doors on the east side of the hall. Dim light, that has found its way through cracks in the dome, falls onto the pit. The darkness from the pit seems to swallow the light.

Cornelius places an Alarm spell on the mouth of the pit. He flies up to the domed ceiling, peering through one of the cracks. He notices something flying around far above. Then, suddenly, it flies quickly away. Cornelius does not feel that it is the dragon. Io suggests that Cornelius fly down the pit of darkness. He declines the offer, but instead suggests that he cast Fly on her. She agrees and flies slowly down the pit. Even Io’s Darkvision cannot penetrate the blackness. As she descends, the wall of the pit and the air itself grow increasingly colder. About 300’ down, Io feels a gooey substance on the walls and heads back up to report her findings. The substance on her glove is a lightly glowing yellow-green slime. It seems to be causing her glove to smoke lightly. She quickly scrapes the slime off.

Fatima casts Prying Eyes and sends out 14 flying sensors to search ahead for living creatures, undead creatures, and a way out of the ruins. The party continues exploring beyond the double doors.

Along another hallway, they find a sort of embalming room. In the room’s centre, is a long metal table, with oiled strips of cloth and bits of dried flesh on its surface. To its right, is a smaller table that holds a huge collection of glass vials, filled with various liquids and salves. Near the north wall, a figure is squatting, apparently cleaning dried flesh form the floor. As she turns toward the group, they see that it is a pale-skinned Labreyan woman. She is frightened by the party and backs away.

The woman calls herself Nanihi. Ilio reassures her that they will not harm her and that they are simply looking for a man named Sohrab. She does not recognize the name. She says that she lives here in the ruins with 200 or so of her people. A man who calls himself Arbo came here several months ago. He used undead servants to force her people to look for artifacts that he said were buried in the ruins. Arbo commanded her to clean this room, whcih he uses for “experiments”. She is frightened that Arbo will return and punish her for speaking with them. She says that they are in danger from him as well. The group recalls that “Arbo” is an alias sometimes used by Sohrab.

Something about her story does not sit right with Io. She tires to intimidate Nanihi into telling the truth. The woman does not appear to react to Io’s words but makes for the exit, offering to take them to her people. Pascal attempts to restrain her in a grapple. As he does this, he can feel that her skin is not normal – it is rotting! Nanihi, an undead creature, turns the tables on Pascal and grapples him. Fatima uses Telekinesis to pin the creature and Io deacpitates it with her spear. The group takes the glass vials and some small surgical tools hanging on the wall.

They explore further down the hall to find a prison cell. Inside is an emaciated man chained to the wall. Pascal finds that he is suffering from hunger and thirst and is weakened beyond even that. After they heal and feed him, the has enough strength to give his name – Gere Raimo. He says that he was “rescued” from the Marquis Farileau‘s dungeons in Baste by a man in grey robes. The man brought him here to keep him imprisoned and to take bits of his flesh every few days. He doesn’t know how long he has been here. He was being fed by the undead creatures, but he felt himself getting weak. Every few days or so, the man would return with a skin of some foul-tasting liquid. The substance seemed to make him feel better for a time. Then he began to feel weak again, only to be given the liquid again. Raimo vows revenge against the Marquis and this grey-robed man.

From his story, Cornelius deduces that he is suffering from exposure to raw star metal that is present in the surroundings. Fatima figures out that the cell door has raw star metal in it. She speculates that Sohrab might be testing cures for the exposure on Raimo.

In a nearby room they find a pack and bedroll. The pack contains some dried meat, a map, and notebook. Cornelius carefully reads the book, but triggers a Sepia Snake Sigil. With a huge amount of heroic effort, he overcomes the effects. Cornelius says that he needs to sit and have a cup of tea after the ordeal. The group agrees to rest for a time. Fatima reads the notebook and finds several interesting passages, written in Lettanni. During this time, several of her “eyes” return. They seem to have found more creatures, living and undead, among the ruins.

Session 61 - May 19/14
Don't forget to read my letter...

The skeletal guards appear ready to attack. Cornelius gets the jump and casts Web upon them, then flies up twenty feet. Despite the webs, the skeletons move up and attack Pascal with their spears. He is brutally stabbed in the chest and falls. They turn their attack to Io. She enlarges herself but is also brought unconscious and near death.

Bilya summons a very large monster – a dinosaur – and flies up with Cornelius and Fatima. The creature rips into the skeletons’ bones. Fatima attempts to stabilize Io and is injured in doing so. Nevertheless, she is still able to stabilize her. Bilya attempts to cast Hold Monster on one of the skeletons. The spell seems to go astray and it affects one of the dead skeletons, by mistake.

The party is able to defeat the undead creatures and revive the fallen members. They find four +2 adamantine longspears and four sets of finely crafted leather armour. Io and Pascal decide to each take one of the spears.

Fatima casts Fly on Io. Io takes to the air carrying Pascal and the group flies off in the direction that Tanya and Jalec are believed to be. It takes them to a large plaza. Fruit trees, plants, and various fungi are arranged in stands around a central pool of water. The pool is fed by two waterfalls to the west and east. A river flows out of the pool to the south. Lining the plaza are many ancient buildings, many of them severely damaged. Among the ruins, to the north, sits a huge, reptilian creature.

The group identifies the creature as one of the rarest of creatures – a magma dragon. Flapping its massive wings, it rises up and moves towards them. In Elvish, it says to them “…crispy not scorched…” and attacks them with a breath weapon – a cone of flames. The group is toasted, except Cornelius, who managed to turn invisible and hide.

Bilya casts Mass Suggestion, and says to friend and foe: “End all hostilities and leave this place.” Only Cornelius and the dragon are affected, who both flee. The dragon escapes to the north through a great pillared archway.

The party, minus Cornelius, check out where the dragon went and try to find the missing members, Tanya and Jalec. Beyond the pillars, in a large hall, they find scorched remains of two bodies, exactly where Io determined the two companions should be.

The find a room to the west. Along the north and south walls are 20’ high statues of what appear to be Labreyan elders or nobles. A great frieze runs along the walls below the ceiling. It depicts the life of a man and woman, from birth to their marriage.

Bilya confesses that he is not Labreyan. His true name is Ilio, as uttered by Sohrab earlier. He is Esciarvan, born in Villosa. He says that he was a member of the Stars’ Children until several years ago. He left the organization over “philosophical differences” and made a home in the West Hanum Islands, keeping a low profile. When war broke out, he decided to help the Labreyans on Athlell to keep themselves hidden. He took on the disguise of Bilya to hide his true identity from the Lettanni. Fatima asks Ilio why he left the Stars’ Children. He says that he did so after discovering its origins.

After the great cataclysm from the sky more than 2000 years ago and the 100 year winter that followed, only a very small number, perhaps ten or so, from across Ashtar, were magically sensitive enough to be able to access the magic from the star metal. They referred to themselves as “Sensitives”. They knew that they held the potential for great power, but were vastly outnumbered by the general population. Magic was strange to people, and the group feared that they may be persecuted for practising the arcane arts. They needed to increase their numbers, to protect themselves and to increase their base of power.

They began a carefully organized breeding program. Very small amounts of the crude star metal were fed to pregnant women, unbeknownst to them. Many of the women died. Of those that survived, most bore dead or deformed babies. Of the healthy surviving offspring, a very small number were found to have magical aptitude. Their offspring were then more likely to produce magically sensitive offspring of their own. Over the centuries, the blood lines were carefully tracked, so that potential sensitives could be easily identified. Their numbers grew.

More than 500 years ago, the number of practitioners of arcane magic had grown large enough, that an organization, called the Stars’ Children, was founded. It established academies in Prue, Llantry, and Brindi to better develop the identified sensitives into trained practitioners and to control the use of the arcane arts.

After learning this, Ilio could no longer be part of an organization that was born out of the suffering and deaths of countless women and children. He wonders how much of that taint remains with the Stars’ Children today.

Ilio feels that Sohrab may be in a senior role within the Children of Zepha, but is not their leader. He is concerned that Sohrab may be looking for the lost Token of Galus on Calmuth Island. He offers to teleport Io and the others to the place where Nanui and the other children buried the artifact.

The group agrees. Ilio teleports the party away. They reappear at the edge of a jungle on a rocky coast line. Io is not present. Searching around, they spot her about 25 yards away to the north. They also spot a military encampment, likely of Gul, only a few hundred yards farther up the coast.

Bilya hurries them to find the spot where the relic was hidden. Io digs about a foot down into the earth. She finds the Token of Galus in pristine condition. Ilio sees a patrol heading their way. He quickly teleports the group back, but not before Cornelius leaves a letter behind.

Dear Reader

If you are reading this you found my letter. Good for you!

Have a nice day.

Professor C.G.

P.S. I am glad I prepared Exploding Runes today…….

Back in the hall, they decide to search the area before the dragon returns. Io finds a hidden tunnel that leads underground and to the east. They decide to fully explore this are of the ruins, which they to be a kind of palace, before going down and investigating the tunnel.

Around the corner, they find more wights. The undead manage to pin Io and Pascal, but their spears make short work of the creatures.

Session 60 - May 7/14
Oh poo - this place is dirty!

The three companions return to their own bodies, in their own time. They are greeted by Bilya, who informs them that they were unconscious for 33 days, much to the group’s amazement. They inform Bilya about what they discovered – the Token of Galus and the necklace that the witch wore.

Bilya informs the group that Tanya left the temple while they were away to scout the mountain and never returned. Jalec was stricken with a rotting illness but recovered with Pascal‘s aid. He left to look for Tanya, so he claimed, and also didn’t return. Bilya seems anxious to teleport to Calmuth Island to find the buried token. The group does not share his sense of urgency.

Io is able to discern via magic that both Tanya and Jalec are about 1500 feet below them, underground, and to the north. Cornelius descends the “well” that the group had previously sabotaged. He finds four skeletal guards at the bottom. He casts Black Tentacles , but the skeletons manage to escape its grasp. Cornelius gives a look around to see a ruined city.

Back up top, Bilya finds the sewer tunnel to explore. Cornelius goes first and flies right into a swarm of of tiny red spiders. He is able to knock them off with a Cyclone spell and blasts them with a Lightning Flash. Examining the room, Cornelius sees that it seems to be turned upside down. The group explores the adjacent rooms to find that they are also upside down. They find a chimney leading down. Io descends the chimney. Cornelius takes an alternate route through a branch in the sewer, but they eventually to meet up in a large cavern.

They find more of the ruined city, this part right-side-up. However, the buildings that line the way have toppled onto each other, forming an archway over the dark cobblestone streets.
Io scans a room, using her magical gloves, and sees a ghostly form hovering over a golden chair. Most of the party does not feel the need to talk to it, but Pascal, after praying to his god, feels it would be a good idea to talk to the ghost.

As they enter the room, the figure seems to ask a question in a strange dialect of Labreyan. Between Fatima, Cornelius, and Fatima they understand the question to be “Have you been sent to rebuild our city?”. Fatima assures the ghost that that is their purpose. He seems convinced and proceeds to babble.

The ghost says, repeatedly, “We must rebuild", “Tumaraa is no more”, “The spirits of Fire and Air unleashed there wrath upon us”, and “I did not foresee it”. Fatima asks how they may help to rebuild the city. The ghost replies “The King and Queen will decide that.”

Bilya believes that they are at the site of an old Labrayen city, called Tumaraa, that was destroyed during the cataclysm and hundred year winter that occurred more than 2000 years ago. The ghost must have been one of its citizens.

They decide to leave the ghost. The group moves further into the city. They find a swift-flowing river in the middle of the street that leads to a waterfall that drops to the city ruins far below. Accross the river, a building stands. Io scans it to find an outer room with four ghostly armed guards and in the inner room containing piles of clay tokens. Among the piles are three skeletons with shovels.

Suddenly a man appears. Bilya seems to recognize him and says “Sohrab, you show yourself at last!” He casts a Shadow Evocation Lightning Bolt at him. The man is lightly damaged. He replies “You can’t prevent what must take place, Ilio!” Then the man disappears. Fatima calls Bilya by the name “Ilio”. He sheepishly agrees to explain, but the group decides to hear it after they have finished exploring.

As they enter the room with the ghostly guards, the ghosts disappear. Cornelius finds a old coin with the image of a man on one side and a woman on the other, both in profile. In the back room they find larger clay tokens with the same images. Cornelius searches two alcoves – one marked “Treasury”, in old Labreyan, and one marked “Taxes”. He throws a token into one of them – it disappears. They determine that the alcoves are a from of teleportation device. They decide not to use the device just yet. Instead, they take the natural stone tunnel leading from the cavern that they discovered earlier.

The tunnel descends sharply, so they party takes great care making their way down. At the bottom they see that the floor is in fact masonry, with holes in the floor that are actually windows. The determine that that they are on top of a building that has fallen onto its side. The inside of the building is covered with moss and a luminescent fungus. At the bottom is a writhing pit of snakes. The group gets past the snakes and makes its way out into the ruined city. They find the remnants of a fallen tower. Several waterfalls from above feed a large river ahead, that flows to a large chasm. The group stears clear of the river and finds it way to the courtyard that Cornelius found previously. The four skeletal guards await them. They move to attack.

Session 59 - Apr. 7/14
Don't stick your tongue out at me, old man!

After a short debate, the group decides to use the Stone to Flesh scroll to restore Bilya to his former self and hope that he can revive Pascal later. Fatima, with some aid from Io, successfully releases Bilya from his stony form. As he breathes his first breath, a thick, slimy, flesh-coloured substance falls from the ceiling, splattering Bilya, Fatima, and Cornelius. As Cornelius savours the cheesy taste of the substance, the others realize that the spell unexpectedly converted some of the stone ceiling into flesh. Wiping the slime from his brow, Bilya confirms that higher levels spells have been acting strangely lately.

Bilya is unsure how long he has been in stone form. The group estimates that it’s been about 3 weeks. He recalls how he managed to allude the undead guardians on this level, but succumbed to the trap at the pool. He was in the process of studying the pool, when it happened.

The group returns to the room with the large relief statue of the fire bat god that overlooks the 5’ diameter pool. They carefully check the area to make sure not to trigger the trap and discover that the spell associated with the trap is not currently active, but may reset itself at some point. The group can see swirling images in the dark waters of the pool – images of vegetation, animals, and people. The people appear to be of Labreyan descent. Bilya studies the pool for more than hour and believes that he has discovered its purpose.

It seems to be some sort of scrying device. By touching the pool, it is able to project one’s life force back in time, allowing one to observe the activities of others in another time period. The subject’s spirit should be able to return to their own body once they return to the same spot where they first appeared in the older time period. He is not sure in exactly what time period that the subject will appear, nor if he or she will appear in the exact same location. Bilya believes that the Children of Zepha may try to use or may have used the pool to find the location of an artifact or artifacts in another time. Although he understands that there are risks involved, Bilya wants to use the pool to find out if this is the case.

As Bilya is the only one that can restore the victims of the Flesh to Stone trap, he offers to stay behind, while three or four volunteers use the pool. He assures them that their bodies will stay behind, in stasis. He will see that they are not harmed. Io, Fatima, and, somewhat unenthusiastically, Cornelius volunteer to use the pool to travel in time. They link hands, forming a circle, and place them within the nearly black water. For a moment, they feel as if they are sleeping. They each “awaken” in another’s body.

Io discovers that she is within the body of Nanui, a Labreyan boy of 8 years. He is on a sandy beach on a jungle coastline. It is a warm and partly sunny day. He is helping three of his older cousins unload their catch from a canoe. Io knows this from Nanui’s thoughts – she cannot see what he sees. Io senses that Nanui is unsettled by her presence, but she is able to calm him enough to telepathically control his actions. As they unload the fish, Nanui hears some fishermen nearby talking about a witch that is to be executed at dusk. One of them jokes how there will not be much left of her body once the sharks are finished with her. Nanui cannot speak to Io, but she senses this information in Nanui’s thoughts. Nanui’s cousin, Teva, thanks him for helping and offers to let him fish with them again tomorrow, if his father allows it. Nanui, enthusiastically accepts the offer. Teva gives him a share of the fish and bids him farewell. Io directs Nanui to return to his family’s hut with the fish.

Fatima appears in the body of Hiro, a Labreyan boy of 10 years. He is inside a hut with a few beams of sunlight penetrating a window flap. Hiro sits at a table, lit by a glowing stone that he created himself with a Light spell. He notices Fatima’s presence and seems intrigued by it, rather than frightened. Fatima tries to communicate that she is not there to harm him, but to teach him. Hiro has been tasked by his master, the village priest Pomare, with determining the nature of two magical scrolls. He has already identified one as a scroll of Detect Magic. After some time, he discovers that the other scroll contains the magic of a Detect Evil spell. Once he is done this, he starts to tidy up the room and take a pot of boiling soup off of the fire. Fatima instructs Hiro to go visit his master, Pomare, who he knows to be at the beach.

As he approaches the shore, Hiro can see his master blessing the double-hulled sailing canoe that will be used to kill the witch this evening. Fatima probes Hiro’s thoughts about the witch, learning that the witch’s name is Eeva and that she is a worshiper of the fire bat. Hiro asks Pomare why the witch is being killed. Pomare replies that she is sentenced to death because she is a worshiper of the fire bat. He adds that her husband, Moratu, is also a fire bat worshipper, but fled the village about a fortnight ago, before he could be taken into custody. Hiro tells Pomare that he is done his chores and asks if he may come along when the witch is being executed. Pomare, surprised to see Hiro here, forbids it and gives him other tasks to do. Hiro, with the help of Fatima, determines that his master is just giving him busy work to keep him occupied. Disappointed, Hiro returns to the village.

Cornelius appears in the body of Taurua, a Labreyan girl of 10 years. She is outside of the family’s hut, playing a game with some rocks of multiple colours. She is a little frightened by the presence of the old man within her body. Ignoring her anxiety, Cornelius proceeds to learn about the game that she is playing. Taurua hears low voices from inside the hut – her mother and father are having a conversation. At Cornelius’ command, she sneaks up to the open window and listens in.

  • Mohea (mother): "She is too young. She should not see such things until her first blood.”
  • Ponui (father): “But she has grown so much and the villagers respect her. It would show her strength, if she were present.”
  • Mohea: “This woman is a worshiper of the bat. She will curse all of those present. I don’t want my daughter to witness that.”
  • Ponui: “She is powerless now that her husband is gone. Taurua will be in no danger.”
  • Mohea: “ All the same, I don’t want her to see it. Promise me that you won’t take her with you when it’s done…”
  • There is a pause.
  • Ponui: “As you wish, then. But she will have to face such things some day, if she is to realize her true potential.”
  • Mohea: “Perhaps. But not this day.”
  • Ponui: “Well, I need to make sure that the hut is being repaired before I go out to sea. I will see you again this evening, my wife.”

Taurua knows that the woman they speak of is called Eeva. Her husband was a village elder named Moratu. They were both found to be bat worshipers, an offence punishable by death. Moratu fled the village some 2 weeks ago before they could condemn him. She remembers that several months ago, Moratu, then still elder, condemned his own friend and other villagers, when they were found to be bat worshippers.

Taurua then hears her father leaving the hut. Cornelius commands her to run after him. Taurua asks her father about the witch. He realizes that she overheard him talking with her mother and asks her if she wants to witness the execution. The girls is afraid, but Cornelius convinces her to say yes. Ponui takes her back to the hut and gets her to tell her mother that she wants to go with her father, a village elder, to the execution of the witch. Mohea agrees to this but is clearly upset with her husband for putting her in this position. Ponui takes Taurua, first to the north side of the village to see how the hut repairs are going, then to the beach, where the canoe awaits.

After seeing the village, the river to the north, and now the beach, Cornelius estimates that they are on the western shore of Calmuth Island, where the modern Ulgar village of Gora once was, until burned by the Gul. Cornelius knows that the Ulgar annexed western Calmuth a little more than 100 years before their own time, causing the resident Labreyans to flee. So, this time time period could be no later than that.

As Hiro leaves the beach, Nanui notices his friend and they agree to meet later. Near Nanui’s hut, they discuss the killing of the witch. During the conversation, they learn that both boys are being possessed by the party members. As they speak, Taurua and her father pass them on their way to the shore. Taurua makes faces at them. This convinces Fatima and Io that the girl, usually mild-mannered, is likely being possessed by Cornelius. Hiro goes off to do his chores for Pomare, while Nanui returns to the beach.

The sailors are preparing the canoe and Pomare is completing his blessings as Taurua and her father approach the beach. The sun is getting low in the sky as a crowd is forming on the beach. Ponui sees some of the other elders present and moves to join them. Taurua, sitting a little ways away, by herself sees Nanui. They both notice that the four warriors near the canoe are returning to the village. Nanui follows behind them as do several other villagers.

The warriors stop at a hut in the village centre and call for Eeva, the witch. She emerges from the hut and is escorted by the warriors to the beach. As they pass Nanui, he sees that she is wearing a leather cord around her neck with a charcoal-coloured stone cube hanging from it. There is a streak of crimson in the stone. Nanui returns to the beach, just behind them.

At the beach, the crowd parts to let the witch through. The warriors stop at the canoe. One of the elders, Amura, announces to the crowd that the witch shall be returned to the water from whence she came. Ponui and Pomare think it unwise to allow the witch to wear the necklace. Amura says that it should be left on her so that it will be consumed with the rest of her. They do not protest. The warriors bring the witch aboard the deck of the canoe. The elders follow behind, with Taurua in tow. The canoe sails off toward the northwest.

Farther down the beach, several fishing canoes are waiting to follow behind at a safe distance. Teva, Nanui’s cousin, offers to take him with them to watch the execution from their canoe. By this point, Hiro has finished his work and is at the beach. Nanui asks if Hiro can join them too. Teva agrees.

As the sun sets in the west, the double-hulled canoe that carries the witch stops a few miles from shore. A line carrying several bloody fish parts is lowered into the water. Within minutes, several silver-tipped fins appear just above the water’s surface. The sharks make a frenzied attack on the fish. In its thrashing, one of the sharks very nearly jumps aboard the canoe.

Amura says that it is time for the witch to die. Her gag and bonds are removed and she is brought to the very stern of the canoe. Amura asks her if she has any final words. She says only: “He will come for me.” Taurua tries to warn her father about the necklace, but he feels it is not his place to question the wisdom of Amura. Before the warriors can push her over, she lets herself fall into the awaitng sharks. More thrashing ensues. Her limbs are torn from her and she is bitten in half as her life’s blood darkens the water. Several minutes later, the thrashing stops and the water is calm. Taurua noitces the small flotilla of canoes that has formed to the south to watch the event. She also sees a lone canoe to the east.

Nanui and Hiro, from their canoe, see the witch fall into the water and get eaten by the sharks. They also notice the single canoe to the east. Teva turns the canoe around and returns to shore. Back on the beach, Nanui and Hiro discuss what happened in private. They are unsure how to proceed. They decide to go home and talk again in the morning. Taurua arrives ashore a little later and returns to her hut with her father. He expresses his pride in her and that he feels that she will be a good elder one day.

Nanui’s father invites Nanui to join him during his leather work this day. Nanui says that his cousins invited him to fish with them. His father consents to it and tells Nanui to find him when he’s back. Nanui finds his cousins at the beach. He asks them if they will fish near the area where the witch was killed. Teva is afraid of the silver sharks and refuses. One of the other fishermen says that no one would risk fishing near the vicious silver sharks – no one except Mako. Nanui asks who Mako is. The fisherman says that he is a recluse shark hunter that lives alone, north on the coast. He may already be out there fishing the sharks. Nanui decides to tell Hiro about this.

Hiro starts his day with Pomare, helping him organize magical components and identifying items. Nanui calls from outside. Pomare permits Hiro to speak with him briefly. Nanui tells Hiro about the shark hunter, Mako – maybe he can help them find the necklace that Eeva wore. Hiro agrees and goes to find Taurua. Nanui goes to find his father in his work hut.

Hiro finds Taurua outside her hut, watching her younger siblings play. Hiro mentions Mako, but Cornelius decides that Taurua is too busy right now. Hiro decides to fetch Nanui instead. The two of them try to find Eeva’s hut to search it, but discover that it is already being burned. With that lead a dead end, the two boys get Taurua and the three of them leave the village to find Mako.

The children cross the river and find a jungle path that leads north. After hiking for more than three hours, they find a clearing with a single hut. Lines holding shark parts hang between nearby trees and the hut. On the door of the hut are the jawbones of a shark. Peeking inside, Nanui sees that the hut is festooned shark parts. Mako is absent.

Hiro finds a trail that leads down to the shore. They see that a sailing canoe is approaching the shore from the southwest. The children hide in the bushes. Several minutes later, the canoe comes ashore. The fisherman carries a large, heavy-looking bag over his shoulder and holds a long metal knife in his hand as he heads up the trail to the hut. Metal items have been condemned in the village and it is considered a punishable offence to wield one. Hiro uses Detect Magic on the man. He sees that his knife is indeed magical. They let the man pass by to the hut. After he is inside, Hiro runs back to the path to fetch the adults from the village.

Three hours later and after dark, Hiro makes it back to the village. He finds Pomare and tells him what has transpired. They find the elder Ponui, Taurua’s father. He commands four warriors to accompany the three of them north to Mako’s hut.

The other two children stay hidden in the bushes near the shore. Near dark, they hear two men’s voices outside the hut. They cannot see them. One of the men asks the other if he has found what he was looking for. He says yes and asks if the other has brought him"the other knife you promised me". The first man says yes but wants to confirm that he found the necklace. After a long pause, presumably to check the bag, the first man thanks the other and leaves down the path. Taurua is sure that the first voice was that of Moratu, Eeva’s fugitive husband. Nanui decides to follow him.

As Nanui heads down the path, he hears something coming up behind him. It’s the fisherman – Mako! He grabs Nanui prevent shim from running away. Grappled, Nanui suddenly feels the urge to use the small metal hammer that he has been hiding in his pouch. Once in his hand, the hammer glows brightly. Quickly, Nanui strikes Mako in the hand. Mako recoils, allowing Nanui to run away. Mako runs after him and tries to grab him again. Nanui evades him and strikes him again. After that, Mako lets him go. After Mako returns to his hut, Taurua catches up with Nanui. There is no trace of Moratu.

On their way back to the village, the two children encounter Taurau’s father and his party. Ponui is relieved to find her safe. The children tell them what happened. Ponui tells two of the warriors to take the three children back to the village. He and the others will see to Mako.

Back in the village, Nanui tells Hiro about his hammer. Hiro, with the help of Fatima’s knowledge, identifies the hammer as a Token of Galus. The three of them agree that this item is likely what the Children of Zepha are looking for. They find an easily identified outcropping of rock near the shoreline and bury the hammer there. The three children then return to the spots where they were first possessed. The companions explain to the children the importance of keeping the location of the hidden hammer a secret. They seem to understand. Io, Fatima, and Cornelius release their control over the children. They regain consciousness in their bodies and see the pool before them. As they look around the room, Bilya gives a sigh of relief.


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