The Flame of Time

The Weird Sisters
Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.

Leomourn opened his eyes. “Another fucking forest?” Delgen and the sisters opened their eyes too, they were in a lush dark forest.

They got up and felt good, all the cuts and bruises that they had sustained in the battle were healed and they were not fatigued.

“Is this the Feywild?” Delgen looked Amarella in the eyes as she helped him to his feet.

“It feels different.” She said as she dusted of the dwarf.

“There’s a path.” Leomourn said as he followed it

“Wait—” Delgen said, but Leomourn was already far ahead and climbing a slight hill in the forest heading to a copse at the end of the path.

Darella quickly followed and ascended into the treetops and watched. She say three figures at the top of the hill, surrounding what looked like a well. They were all in dark robes.

The moment Leomourn entered copse he slowly reverted into his canine form involuntarily. There was a dumb smile on his face as it took on more lupine traits. He fell on all fours and sprouted an icy tail. It wagged.

“Do not fear us. We will not harm you.” Said the middle figure, as she bent down to pet Leomourn who had charged up the hill barking and wagging his tail frantically.

Darella descended and followed her sister and the dwarf into the clearing. Moonlight filled the copse though it was not seen in the sky. The three figures pulled back their veils. The center figure was a beautiful pregnant woman, her long curled tresses fell down her abundant breasts like golden moonlight. At one side of here was the bent and crooked form of an old wizened crone. She leaned upon a gnarled staff, and played with what looked like spidersilk in her other hand, which was invisible save the random reflections of moonlight. Opposite the crone stood a fair maiden, whose beauty was unmatched in both the mortal realm and the realm of gods. The maiden’s thin robe left very little to the imagination, her curves pressed hard against the fabric.

They stood before the sisters and were privileged to see and hear much, learning cosmic truths that would make even the most stoic and cloistered philosopher shout with joy. There were many questions to be answered, and unfortunately the answers were often more perplexing than the questions themselves.

The Maiden spoke to them first, telling them how it was the sisters who spun and wove the threads of fate, the thin silky thread. These threads represent and in fact are the fates of every single individual, from the most powerful god to the merest mortal. The sisters were the ones who took the threads of fate and wove the fortunes of individuals together. By their skill the threads were woven into beautiful patterns, bringing order and form and eventually the fate of all was woven into the vast and complex fabric of existence itself. For unnumbered ages these three maintained the ever expanding threads in a coherent and singular existence. However, she admitted that she and her sisters were not the creators of the threads — they came from an even higher power to which the sisters were not entirely sure of — and that while they could manipulate and direct the threads en masse, they could not control them individually. For the weaving is a very precise art, each person’s “pattern” affects the patterns of those around them. The threads are not only fate but reality itself, so the pattern of one affects those around it in the cosmic quilt. Thus, fate and free will paradoxically co-exist, each checking and balancing the other on the cosmic scales. When the hubris of individuals, from the lowly arch-mage to the mighty gods themselves, upset the weaved patterns of fate and threaten to rend the literal fabric of existence apart it was the sisters who labored to repair and reweave the threads of fate return peace and stability.

The Matron spoke next, telling of the creation of time magic by the gods, which allowed the deities to change fate. It was only a matter of time until the secret of chronomagic would spread and the ensuing cosmic chaos from the growing temporal distortions would literally unravel the fabric of existence. The sisters knew it would be impossible to eliminate chronomagic, and now much of their attention is spent keeping the constant time travel from tearing apart existence itself with paradoxes. Eventually the Zeithoppers formed, unknowingly helping the sisters stabilize reality by regulating chronomanipulation throughout the planes. However, despite the actions of all, their work was on the verge of collapse. That was why the heroes were there now, the sisters had severed their connections to their fate. This had cut them off from much of their former power and skills but it would give them a chance to stay hidden from forces that were hunting them.

“You have failed. We are giving you a second chance.” The crone said.

“Failed?” Amarella asked.

“Every thing that has happened to you was weaved by our hands. We brought you to every location, every person…every foe. We took you to the places you needed to be, but some how every time you managed to fail the mission. We are going to send you back to try again.” The mother said.

“What were we supposed to do and where?” Amarella asked, kind of hurt. After all their loss and efforts. All that pain…just to be told they failed.

“There is something going on that is bigger than you, bigger than your gods. Bigger than us. You will learn it all soon enough.” The three sisters said and opened their arms, inviting an embrace.

They all approached the sisters, half-aware and held tightly on to the sisters. An overwhelming sense of peace and serenity filled them, a warm glowing that was the feeling of deep love rose from deep within all the warriors. They wept as they all held the sisters of fate, and they slowly were absorbed into the dark fabric of their robes, the soft flesh of the norns had a slight warmth that could be felt through the robes. They smelled of nightskies and autumn evenings, they pressed theirselves against the heroes and engulfed them.

Delgen, Leomourn, Darella, and Amarella were falling in pure darkness. Tears drying on their cheeks, and faint smiles still marked their faces. They were falling fast but for an eternity.

Then they hit something solid, the dull but overwhelming pain of landing on hard ground woke them from their stupor. They sat up tiredly and looked at each other.

“Darella! Your arm!”

View
The Beginning of the End

We find our heroes traversing the Time Sea upon the deck of the Hammerhead with the Time Brothers chronogating the way back to that fateful moment when Tyric fell. That great ceremony that crowned the adventurers as Champions of Time now stood frozen as a testament to their inability to protect the Timestream and the universe as a whole. The dragons of time tore a hole in reality and moored the ship tightly into the 3520th year of the Age of Peace, the year of the Time Champions. The dead ship Naglfar was still poised in the air above Skyheim, the vile spear was still piercing the heart of the great Man-King Tyric; who had fallen to one knee grasping the wound in his chest. Lunaria and Haradon flanked him, both reaching out for him in horror. Every other Time Fixer on Skyheim were there too, frozen in time. All eyes were upon that rotten spear.

“Make haste, for we cannot stop the flow for much longer.” Vilzriquath stated.

“Can you not help us?” Amarella asked.

“I am afraid we cannot, we have interfered enough already. It is not our place.” Another said, and instantly the dragons were gone, and time slowly started to move again. The scene played out in slow-motion, as Tyric fell to the ground. The ceremony scattered. There was motion on the deck of the dead ship.

Malich leaned over the rails of Naglfar and shouted out orders. A small figure, obscured by a dark cloak, bounded high into the air from the ship, landing in the marble-lined courtyard of Skyheim. The figure stood, and peeled back its cowl; revealing the hideous countenance of a dead man — the sunken, expressionless eyes, and rictus grin of a foe long thought vanquished.

“Cole?” Delgen asked, the first to recognize the familiar figure who only smiled and unsheathed a crooked, fiendish sword as he advanced upon the dwarf. Many guests of the ceremony scattered and fled as time came back into full speed, but the heroes were not without allies.

Griff Byron was the first fixer to charge forward, drawing his pistols and shouting orders to the others, “Ready your ships, the lot of ya’! If these bastards want to bring war to our doorstep, they’ll get one!” The blood of a monster-hunter flowing to his extremities, readying him for the ensuing battle.

As the Time Fixers charged forward, furiously tapping K.E.Y.s and firing their gonnes, they were met with cannon-fire and numerous other ghouls leaping from the deck of Naglfar. Through sheer numbers the abominations from the mysterious ship slowed down the Time Fixers, preventing them from reaching the others.

Leomourn and the twins rushed to join Delgen, who still stared in disbelief at the creature before his eyes. As they reached the dwarf they were shocked to see three more figures from their past unexpectedly appear, landing beside Cole Jankins and drawing hideous weapons of their own.

“This isn’t right, we killed them!” Amarella cried, aghast at the foul creatures charging towards them.

“Then we’ll just have to kill them again,” replied Leomourn as he drew one of many pistols he had secreted upon his person, “I call dibs on the big one.”

Some Time Fixers broke through the lines of resistance on foot, while others took to the air with queer technologies of flight that were from unknown times or dimensions, joining the others and charging the figures behind Cole. The three tiefling warriors laughed and fought the advancing fighters expertly, continuing their advance. As they advanced their true nature became more apparent as flesh decayed and fell from their bones in a hideous fashion.

Disgusted by this revolting development, Amarella redoubled her efforts, slicing through the ghouls swarming her with ease, “By the gods, they’re rotting in front of our eyes!”

As her sister effortlessly dodged between the clumsy strikes of the undead assault, Darella’s eyes were drawn to the evil ship floating overhead, a sudden realization coming to her.

“The ship,” Darella shouted to the others, “The further they get from it, the more they decay. It must be the source of their power.”

Slipping through the shadows, Darella transported herself to the deck of the evil ship, materializing behind Malich and driving her shadow-blade towards his heart with expert precision. However, much to her surprise, her dagger met naught but empty air — Malich was nowhere in sight. The evil librarian had somehow maneuvered around the usually unflankable rogue. With a blade now within his hand as if he had summoned it from the aethers, Malich swung for Darella’s neck, eager for long sought revenge.

Swift as the wind, the evil blade was turned aside by the wide sword of Salvatore Dogí. Thrown off balance by the unexpected parry, Malich attempted to regain his footing, only to be knocked backwards by a swift kick from the hound.

“As long as I draw breath, no harm will come to my friends!” Salvatore growled, lifting his broken sword above his head, charging Malich.

Ever more figures bounded from the ship down to the floating structure below. The twisted form of a witch climbed the railing and dove off the ship down to the floating structure below. The corpulent bloated form of Hastur lumbered down the deck and more rolled off the edge of the ship than jumped, leabing a trail of excrement and sin in it’s wake. Darella looked upon the rest of the deck, past the seemingly endless army of shades. Most of the shades were the dead forms of foes that she remembered defeating throughout their many adventures throughout the last few years. Then her eyes fell upon the origin of the thrown spear. The one known as theDark One was standing at the back of the yellow ship, laughing.

In the chaos below Delgen solemnly stared down the spectre of Cole Jankins in front of him. With his ever-present hammer in one hand he drew forth his holy symbol, standing defiantly in front of the advancing hoard.

“Stand down Jankins,” he said as the silver, anvil-shaped pendant began to glow with an intense, unearthly light, “Find peace within the embrace of the All-Father.”

Though several of the undead were reduced to ash in the cleric’s holy light, Cole was undeterred, reaching out and grasping the symbol tightly, cutting into his rotting hand and leaking a foul, black ichor that blotted out its light.

Shaking his head, Delgen sighed, “I guess we’ll have to do this the old fashioned way then,” and with a sickening, wet thud, he slammed his hammer into the revenant’s skull, leaving the (un)earthly remains of Cole Jankins crumpled and twitching on the ground.

Looking up at the ship overhead Delgen hit a switch on his K.E.Y. gauntlet letting out a loud burst of static before a mechanical, yet melodic voice crackled through, “You rang, Commander?”

“Percy, I need a status report on the other Zeitspringers!”

“The majority of them have been docked in preparation for the ceremony today. All available ’Springers are being unmoored and launched as we speak, sir. By my calculations it will be exactly twelve minutes and fourty-four seconds before any of them will be able to join the battle. The only ship ready for immediate combat is the Hammerhead”

“I guess it’s a good thing we were late then. Percy, prepare the ship for Maneuver Q-19!” More revenants filled the courtyard, the burning head of the dead plague keeper charged the dwarf. Her most prized specimen was taken from her in life, so she was to have him in death.

“Might I suggest we employ Maneuver C-93 instead, sir? Maneuver Q-19 always leaves the cargo hold in such a mess.”

“Damn it all, you churlish, crook-pated clack-dish, there’s no time for subtlety here, we’ve lives to save.”

As Delgen continued to bicker with his modron second-in-command, Leomourn and Amarella valiantly battled the undead tieflings. As Leomourn felled the last one with a final shot, Skyheim itself suddenly lurched with unnatural seismic force.

Looking around for the source Amarella sighed, “Leomourn, please tell me that was one of your magic items.”

“Umm, I don’t think so,” he said has he patted himself down, not really sure if one of the innumerable magic items he’d collected was the source or not, “It’s getting so hard to keep track of this stuff.”

As the intensity of the rumbling grew Amarella’s survival instincts kicked in. “We’ve got to get out of here right now,” she yelled, grabbing Leomourn by the nape of his neck and breaking into a sprint, “Something’s coming up from below us — and fast!”

As he was dragged along by the inescapable grip of his girlfriend, Leomourn saw Delgen, too caught up in his argument to notice the danger beneath his own feet. He reached out to the dwarf and called out to his old friend, but his voice was drowned out by the cacophony of the flagstone beneath the dwarf crumbling into powder, replaced by the massive, toothy maw a humongous worm.

Amarella and Leomourn could only watch in horror as Delgen was caught in the worm’s mouth as it burst through the ground beneath his feet, rising improbably high into the sky. The advancing shades halted at the sight of the beast, including the plague keeper. They called out to him in shock and horror, but the only response they could make out was the sound of grinding stone and what may have been the maniacal laughter of a dwarf about to die.


The last thing Delgen remembered before all those teeth was Percy complaining about the latest modifications to the drive core and how they’d thrown off the Hammerhead’s steering. Then there was a great crash which broke Delgen’s concentration, causing him to revert to his stone form, followed by the sudden, sharp pain and an awful grinding sound as the incalculable rows of teeth pulled him deeper into the creature’s gullet.

Though he was ostensibly in mortal danger Delgen could not suppress his laughter. He reached into his pack, pulling out of it a belt of grenades that he’d prepared long ago for just such an occasion. He’d originally obtained them when the party had been transported to the Dry Age, and, anticipating the need for a moment of dramatic and flamboyant self-sacrifice, had rigged them so that their pins could all be pulled simultaneously.

Yanking the pins out, he pushed the belt of grenades below him further into the great worm’s gullet, all the while still laughing.


Just as suddenly as the gigantic wyrm had appeared, it was blown into thousands of pieces, raining down in foul-smelling chunks upon the stunned on-lookers below. It’s blood was acidic, burning through metal and stone with a smoldering hiss. As the shredded remains of the beast slumped to the ground, Amarella and Leomourn saw what appeared to be a shooting star plummeting towards them. Leaping away they narrowly avoided the still-smoldering form smashing into the ground before them.

In shock and covered in worm guts; they ran to the crater where their friend now lay motionless. Peering over the edge Amarella called his name.

“Nobody…swallows…a dwarf…” croaked a familiar voice from deep in the crater.


As the world serpent fought the Hammer-wielder, Darella and Salvatore dealt with their own predicament high in the air atop the deck of Naglfar.

“Jörmungandr has fallen!” Malich called out in the direction of the Dark One, as he was tiredly parrying the precise and endless strength of the hound archon. Darella noticed that Salvatore was attacking fast and hard to tire the librarian, his blows were wide and long. He was playing with the necromancer.

‘’He has served his purpose. After freeing the Naglfar, the beast is expendable.’’ The dark figure in the back of the ship said.

A massive shadow danced on the deck of the ship, Darella noticed this from behind cover. She looked up and the partially frozen, partially rotten form of a dragon slowly crawled from below deck and moved towards the bow, port-side away from Darella and the Archon-Necromancer battle.

“Sarconis!” Leomourn screamed. Darella correctly identified this spectre to be the dragon body Cylarus had inhabited. The frozen dragon stretched it’s icy wings and glided down towards Skyheim.

The Dark One spoke a word of power. The echo of the word caused pain in all those around. All those living clutched at their ears. Darella felt the warmth of blood on her palms as she held the sides of her head. Salvatore let out a yelp and dropped his blade. His ear’s went back and he grabbed them in agony, dropping to the ground in the fetal position. Malich slunk away during this moment of distraction.

The whole titan that was Skyheim cracked at the sound of the word. The ancient structure crumbled and lost altitude. Like the stone, the magic that held the chrononaut adrift was broken as well. The Time Fixers in the courtyard scrambled as the ground beneath their feet began to freefall. Griff expertly ran and jumped from each falling piece of rubble, hopping from the edges of falling stone seemingly effortlessly. He made his way to the dwarf and his two companions.

“I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to try this one out.” Griff said with a smile, he spun into a squatting position his coat spinning cinematically amongst all the chaos. He dialed and flicked his K.E.Y. a hologram of a weird object was projected from the device on his wrist onto the stone below between Delgen’s outstretched feet.

Griff Byron smiled again as the hologram realized and fell on the stone with a metallic thud. The monster hunter grabbed up the thing, stood and propped the object on one shoulder. He aimed the weapon up at the oncoming Dragon. The sound of cannon fire was heard and the dragon was blasted in two halves, split by the arcane firepower. The force of the blast knocked Griff back into Delgen’s lap and the weapon bounced heavily, a number of yards away; over the edge of a slab of stone falling into the chaos that was the falling edifice.

“What was that?” Leomourn asked, intrigued.

“A prototype.” Griff said.

“Can your wrist-thing do that?” Leomourn looked at Delgen, impressed.


Darella charged the Dark One, she had advanced upon the figure painfully slow through the whole endeavor and was finally ready for her attack. She had her rapier poised to kill, and she danced and spun, her shadow mantle flowing about her. A whirling dervish of darkness.

The Dark One watched as she stormed, he lifted a hand and flicked the rogue with one finger and she was sent off the dead ship like a bug. She was half a league away in the blink of an eye. Salvatore froze his muzzle pointing towards the vile figure he closed his fist about his broken blade and scrambled to his feet. He charged his foe. Like his master, Salvatore was thrown effortlessly from the ship. His blade glinted in the daylight as it fell from his hands high in the sky.


The Hammerhead barreled through the clouds, cannons blazing — the full force of her fury upon the Naglfar. The wretched ship’s hull blew apart under the assault, splintering into stinking chunks and vile excrement. The sound of a thousand damned souls pierced the ears of those on the ground, distracting them from their battle.

All on Skyheim looked up towards their singlular hope, but the Naglfar unleashed thousands of black arcane bolts from its cannons, tearing through the hull of the Hammerhead as no other weapon had done before. The ship’s speed usually enabled it to evade any attack from its foes, but the foul ship’s superior weapons reduced it hull to smoking cinders.

Undeterred the Hammerhead turned itself around for another attack run. Delgen, seeing the burning hull of the ship, furiously called towards his second-in-command.

“Don’t tell me you’re sending the ship through another bombing run!”

“Of course not, Commander. The ship is much too damaged for a continued assault. The only remaining option is Maneuver Omega,” Percy calmly replied.

“Don’t you dare, Perceptor! There’s still time,” Delgen shouted at his second in command, “We can make it out of this together.”

“Negative, sir. I’ve run the calculations, and the only positive outcome is conditional upon your survival. With that in mind, this is the only acceptable course of action.”

“Get the yourselves out of there,” he cried into the screen on his K.E.Y. “You have to survive!”

“Do not grieve, Commander. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and for the many, it is imperative you must survive.”

While the dwarf argued with his second-in-command, the Hammerhead sped past the Naglfar, almost wrenching itself apart in a sharp u-turn. With uncanny accuracy it’s reinforced bow pointed itself towards the stinking death-ship and sped forward with blinding speed.

“Percy,” Delgen said, as he began to cry, “Please don’t do this. There must be another way.”

From the dwarf’s KEY there came only a single reply, “Delgen, I have been, and always shall be, your friend. Live long and prosper.”

With those final words, the great ramming bow of the Hammerhead slammed into the hull of the Naglfar, splintering the damp rotten side of the hull into a thousand pieces. Vile excrement and black viscera fell from the shattered remains of the foul ship. A shrill, eternal sound pierced the air as more filth fell from the gaping hole in the ship. Screams of damned souls echoed through the air, finally released from their torment upon the ship. Countless blackened, rotten bodies of the dead fell from the wound like a dark, vile blood. The force of the impact knocked Malich to his knees.

Just as the three warriors were about to fall into the center of the crumbling structure that was falling in on itself, Time froze once again. Delgen looked up at his companions, they helped him up.

Everything went black.

View
Capax Infiniti
In Stato Quo Res Erant Ante Finis

_The Chronicler would like to take this time to diverge from the pace of the scripted yarn. Requests that reader research the topic within the Capax Infiniti for subsequent events happening after the previous tale.

Capax Infiniti is a florilegium about the events that supposedly happened after and during The Ruination and the subsequent Rebuilding. The Ruination being the span of time and events after the undoing of the Cosmic Clock recorded, observed and named by the Time Fixers. Capax Infiniti, in other sources called De Rerum Sextus; is a tome found in the Great Library of the Time Fixers, it is a collection of plays, songs poems and articles concerning the Ruination.

The Capax begins with a scene from a play.
Nautilus

Liber I
The Spear of Time
Undercity
Protector of Kraggenmoor
The Seven Solas

Liber II
Beyond the Door
Monomania
Arborvitaes

Liber III
The Cloak

There also exist multitudes of entries in The Capax that are considered non-canonical by Capaxian scholars. One such entry was the tremendously popular teleoccular situalcom show originally broadcast in AP 8487, The Flamers

View
The Bridge of Nightmares
Of Torture and Ruin

Darella opened her eyes.

She awoke in the temple of Heironeous with all eyes on her.

“We thought we lost you.” Amarella said.

“For the second time.” Leomourn said.

“Glad you’re back, dark one.” Delgen said.

“Sygg…” Darella said after rubbing her eyes with her fists and touching the now dark-brown reddish scar that lined her neck.

“My lady. My heartache is lessened to see you breathing again. I worried that you would be lost once again.” The red hound that was at Darella’s feet said as he raised his head.

“Weird.” Leomourn whispered.

“I am indebted to you my lady twice. Once for your death by my hand and second for not being there to defend your honour and life from the foul demon lord. I shall stay by your side and fight in your honour.” Salvatore said.

“Have you ever thought about how easy it is to bring someone back to life, if you just have the right amount of coin or know the right men of cloth.” Leomourn said.

“It’s because we’re the good guys.” Amarella said, smiling and gently touching her sister’s now warming fingers.

“How do we know that?” Lemourn said.

“Because the world needs heroes, and someone has to step forth.” Delgen said.

“The god’s must favour us.” Amarella said.

“…Sygg…” Darella whispered again.

“Sometimes the bad guys win.” Leomourn said.

After solving the case of the Seven Pointed murder our adventurers found Griff Byron and asked to leave the town and time of Felden. His ship now repaired and ready to set sail once again, he agreed. Griff asked them when they wanted to go, and they asked to return to the year 3518 the day after they had witnessed the Darkeyes parents cast chronomagic under the duress of Pamalyn Cindeowyn.

They leaned over the railing of the ship; as the ship lurched up out of the Prime Plane and swayed hauntingly as she floated adrift the Sea of Time, and watched as the land below the glassy surface change and age as they traveled through time. The wounded land changed form as the drought-stricken earth became moist and verdant once again and soon became covered in snows and hoarfrosts.

Griff ran aground outside of the Frozen Tower and lowered the gangplank.

“Splice the mainbrace!” He shouted with a grin and let them step back onto the frozen surface of the flooded vale. Stepping back into their proper era. They walked to the door of the observatory and looked back. Griff bowed to them and explained that he would be return to them soon and put his hand on the helm, his visage bore a Duchenne smile and the ship was gone with a muted pop. A miasma of many colours both named and unnamed swirled and dissipated where the ship had just been.

They stepped toward the tower with less élan than usual and spoke not a word. They entered the tower, this time not posed with the wizards test of faith. They ventured downwards into the tower. The girls had seemingly escaped successfully and everything was left as it was when they left last. They walked by the seared corpse of the white dragon that Cylarus had embodied and entered the blackened ruins of the room.

The room was time-burnt and existed with a certain taint that only a wound in time could exude. The desecration was one that was felt to the bone and further, to the core of one’s soul. It was worse than the taint left by death as one feels when he walks into a charnel house or the incinerators of yore. It was unnatural and our adventurers could not spend more than a few moments around the mar. The unvoiced questions were answered in one glance…it was impossible for anyone to have survived what happened that fateful day.

“I want to go home.” Amarella said.

Griff appeared within the day and steered his ship to them as they were on their way back to Kraggenmoor. Amarella asked to go back to Dragonsmouth, Darella remained silent conceding to her sister’s wishes. Leomourn too remained silent. Griff sailed southbound and when they were floating high above the Sea of Woes Griff dialed and twisted knobs on his KEY. The Zeitship fell from the sky and bounced gently on the dark inky surface of the brine. Griff once again touched his wrist and with a sound of air and magic the air balloon above was deflated and masts took their places, erecting from the holes in the deck of the ship, and great sails unfolded and became filled with air. The airship now looked nothing more than a sea vessel.

“Quite a trick.” Delgen said.

“That is the least she can do.” Griff said smiling, looking forward.

Our adventurers gathered their possessions, emotions and their resolve as Griff moored the vessel to the quay in Dragonsmouth.

“I haven’t had a right sleep in a while, so lets see if I can get properly drunk before the end of second dogwatch and have my senses go the way of deep six.” Griff said, paying the berthing fee to the dockworker, who then tied the hawsers to the bollard.

“I will leave at high noon in the morrow. If you wish to join me; meet me here, then. Now, where is the best place to drink in this port city?” Griff said as he walked into the great town.

The twins, the archer and the dwarf followed the crazed monster hunter into the port city and followed him into many taverns and drank with him. They had drank their pain and sorrows deep into themselves, numbing them so that they felt nothing but the enjoyment and respect felt when you are truly alive. They reveled in that fact, and shouted into the moist night sky and walked the streets with drinking horns and steins in their grasp. They spoke of the monsters and strange things they had seen. Delgen and Leomourn drunkenly reenacted some of the more physical feats in front of audiences. Embellishing the odds and their performances, as the twins rolled their eyes. Griff’s gaze was adamantly cast upon their performance like a drunken child listening to a story of a hero and a monster.

“There was a castle f…fu…full of demons. They were all in the bottom of the frozen tower.” Delgen said.

“Indeed there were more than six…seven even.” Leomourn said, drinking his elven fire-whiskey.

“Twenty, I dare say!” Delgen corrected looking towards Leomourn, nodding slightly. The women in the alley gasped, one actually seemingly fell faint at the tale.

“Let us check on the old inn.” Amarella said, in a sober tone having not imbibed as much as the dwarf and archer.

“What inn?” Griff asked, not removing his gaze from the pantomime tale of two men’s victory over twenty…now twenty and five demons in a frozen tower of foul nature.

“Our inn.” Darella said and walked from the alley.

The twins walked in and were welcomed by the steward therein. Amarella walked into the kitchen and checked upon it’s status. Darella disappeared down a dark stairwell. Griff walked in in wonder and found his way to the bar.

“A pint of the darkest stuff you have, and what do you have in the way of food? I haven’t eaten in over a century.” Griff said jokingly.

“We’ve got pork scratchings, pickled eggs, salted crisps and peanuts; courtesy of the house. Cockles, whelks, mussels and fried shrimp for a coin per serving. A ploughmans’ lunch for two. A pie and a pint for five. Shrimp in all styles. Chicken in a basket for four. Steak and ale pie, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash, Syggsdai roast, and pasties; all eightcoin.” The buxom bar maid said while pouring a thick and black ale from a large cask.

“What’s a pasty?” Griff asked then threw back the whole pint, slamming it down and asking for another one.

“It is a flaky pastry with meat and stew within; a hearty meal, one is usually enough even for the most stout of men. You would like it.” She said filling the cup once again, readjusting her clothes to reveal more pale vein ridden breast, like a fine cheese.

“I’ll take two. One beef and one chicken.” Griff said and walked away from the bar.

“And then we both jumped from the ship and fought the giant with our bare hands, I pulled his teeth out and Delgen pulled his ears from his head.” Leomourn said as he kicked the doors open and poured in the tavern, a sea of drunken women flooded in after him. Delgen was strutting into the building with his fists on his hips, two women to either side of him, he nodded in accordance of the tale.

“I kept the ears, but I dare not show them to women of such caliber.” Delgen said, mocking the motion of revealing the imaginary ears within his belt. The women around melted.

“Where is the heart of the giant now?” Griff said as he stepped from the shadows of the tavern.

“Well…” Leomourn stuttered.

“And what of the ship? The one you were on when the beast attacked? What is the state of the ship?” Griff asked, drinking the black ale.

“Well, she is still functional is she not?” Delgen said, glaring.

“And how much did the repairs cost?” Griff asked trying to hold back his grin, slamming his emptied glass upon the ground.

“I see, listen Griff I will cover your debauchery here.” Delgen said, pulling forward his coin purse.

“I care not for your squandering of coin as much as I find discomfort in your subterfuge. And lack of respect for my vessel.” Griff said grabbing the pint from Delgen’s hand and throwing it back.

“Right. Butterflies, remove yourselves from the Archer and I, heroes need our rest, presently.” Delgen said, the women scattered much to their chagrin.

The pale bar wench walked out into the light cast upon the Zeithopper and the Dwarf from the moonlight that flooded the darkened room through the hole in the ceiling and handed Griff a clay platter with two steaming hot brown pastries. Delgen grabbed one and bit deep into it and stared. Leomourn ran up to them and grabbed the other, he bit the steaming thing and huffed loudly a few times exclaiming that it was hot. Griff dropped the patter upon the floor and walked back to the bar.

“Look at these poofs, drinking all my ale and getting on with my women.” A voice said at the bar, to the side of Griff.

“Yeah Torr, who do they think they are?” Another voice answered, in a sniveling style. Griff turned to them.

“Which poofs?” Griff asked then threw back a slug of a hafling-made anise-flavoured spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium, together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs. He called for a stout afterward.

“The dwarrow and his drunk friend.” The first said leaning back on the bar, exposing his torso in a way that was meant to convey that he was fearless and could fend for himself.

“You two look like the poofs from where I’m standing.” Griff said emphatically, and continued to drink his oyster stout.

“Excuse me?” Exclaimed the first, named Torr.

“I said you two look like you two engage in orthogenital copulation, and sodomy as well as pederasty.” Griff said, smiling.

“Who do you think you are? Do you know who you’re talking to?” The first said after dropping his stein and approaching Griff.

“I do not, in fact. Nor do I care.” Griff said finishing his stout.

“I am Torr and this is my tavern! It would be prudent if a buggering quadroon like you, to mind his business.” Torr said.

“What is a quadroon?” Leomourn asked, as he approached the bar.

“The offspring of a man and a half-elf.” Delgen said calmly, recognizing what was unfolding before him, he closed his eyes and called upon his dwarfen ability to metabolize a portion of the alcohol he had consumed to become more sober.

“You call me that as if it was a bad thing.” Griff said standing straighter.

“Alright I’ve had enough of you three benders, get out of me pub!” Torr said, pulling his waistcoat back to reveal the shine of a dagger on his belt.

“We mean no harm, we just come here to drink.” Delgen said.

“Yes we do.” Griff said.

“Calm, Griff. We don’t want to hurt these jossers, just let them get along so they can go back to their dosshouse and plow each others jackseys.” Leomourn said turning his back to the men with a wink to Griff. Griff smiled.

“I’ve been craving a good barney!” Griff said. Leomourn ducked just then as a fist cut through the air right were his head had been and he spun and kicked the legs out from under Torr. Griff had grabbed the arm of the man and pulled it in the other direction of his flying legs. The man was on the ground.

Four men stood from the card table a little off from the bar and unsheathed various weapons they had concealed and brought.

“Finally this night has grown interesting.” Delgen said, throwing back another pint, kicking a boot to the second man that had been with the one called Torr.

An immense pub brawl unfolded in The Shadow of the Sun. Seemingly everyone joined, it was a maelstrom of fists, blades and bloody bruising of various body parts.

“Enough!” A voice came from behind the bar, it was Amarella’s. A magical darkness entered the whole of the chamber even blocking the moonlight that had so peacefully spilled into the room before, as Darella exited the stairwell that had presumably led to the cellar. Everyone froze in the darkness, not knowing what to do.

“If anyone even looks like they will throw another fist, I will be upon you like a beast.” Amarella said, Bernard ducked into the tavern and looked around feeling the distress that his master had been feeling.

“Release the darkness.” Amarella said to her sister. Darella relaxed her face and as she did so, the darkness crawled back into the corners of the room and behind furniture where shadows usually belonged.

The whole of the pub rubbed their eyes and looked around, stunned. Some got up, some left confused. Torr slowly got up and looked around and was promptly met with a hard strike to the face.

The next morning Griff awoke on the dock beside his ship and looked at the sun, she was not yet directly above him, he sat up. There was half a pasty wrapped in brown parchment in his side pocket, and a mug of cider that had surprisingly not been overturned by his side. He ate this and sat up. He stood after a while and asked for servant to get him some bumbo. He sipped upon the fermented cider and coughed some of it into the dark brine that filled the port, but managed to keep some of it down hoping it would help his headache, as he waited for the bumbo.

He walked across the gangplank and boarded his ship.
Griff looked upon a deck decorated with regurgitated pasty and lagers, on the deck were two figures both laying within their own sick. An archer and a dwarf. He approached them.

“Hey, why are you on my ship?” Griff asked, kicking each in turn.

“Wake up! I am going to leave soon.” Griff said, pulling them up into sitting positions.

‘’Take me to Kraggenmoor.’’ Leomourn said, and was sick upon his chest.

“Okay mate, you got it.” Griff shrugged and said, looking upon the dwarf who got up and put his hands on the railing of the ship and looked deeply into the black waters.

“I don’t belong here.” Delgen said, pungently.

They left in silence and Griff let Leomourn off of his ship at Kraggenmoor and the three men said their silent goodbyes. Griff and the dwarf sailed the time seas, Griff asked the dwarf:

“Where should I drop you?”

“I have no where.” Delgen said.

“Like me.” Griff said.

“Can I join the Time Fixers ?” Delgen asked.

```

Nine moons had past.

```

Zaerith Vaa’yan knocked on the door of the inn, Wind stood there silently.

Amarella answered the door, being the first up in the morning. It was little after firstlight and the night cooks were just then falling asleep in there homes and the bartenders were battling the pull of drink and sleep. Amarella was the first up, she checked the status of the kitchen before the morning cooks, she heard the knocking from the back of the Inn. She answered.

“We’ll serve breakfast in two hours. Unless you need a room.” Amarella said.

“We require neither food nor lodging.” The gaunt figure replied.

“Well, then it’s settled.” Amarella said, and turned in the direction of the kitchen.

“Amarella Darkeyes, our business is of great importance and must be hastened. We require information that we have suspicion to believe you can give us, and we shall give you information that will be of value to you.” The svelte figure said.

“Information?” Amarella said, turning around.

“Yes, we would like to gather all of you first.” The figure said.

“All of us?” Amarella said.

“Yes, you, your sister your partner. A one Leomourn Stalkingwolf.” The figure said, impatiently.

“I haven’t seen that fool in over nine months!” Amarella said with a fire in her eye.

“Settle your affairs here and fetch your sister; we know were the wolf-man is, we will take you to him.” The figure said.

“Fine. Come in, would you like a drink? I don’t know why I should trust you.” Amarella said and walked behind the bar, opening the door to the cellar and calling down to her sister. Darella came from the shadow of the stairs shortly after.

“What’s the matter?” Darella asked looking upon the two figures. The thin one was drinking milk, the other had not sat down.

“These men know about us and Leomourn.” Amarella said cleaning a dish.

“We also know of the dwarf and the elf. And all your exploits about this land and of your enemies. Now, I am sorry to hasten you but our mission is one of the most sensitivity.” The figure said.

“We have no reason to trust you. Why would we leave the comfort of our lives here to go out and get mixed up in all that business again.” Amarella said.

“Because you miss it. The trill of adventure. Your hearts rot here in this drab tavern, serving to fools and drunkards, when really it yearns for blood and danger.” The gaunt figure said looking at them and settling his gaze upon Darella.

“It’s true.” Darella said.

“Fine, give us some time to get ready.” Amarella said.

“I’m ready.” Darella said. She grabbed a bag that was hanging in the broom closet that was the entrance to the stairway. She sat beside the figure.

“What are your names?” She asked smiling.

“I am called Zaerith and he is called Wind.” The figure said downing the last of his milk.

The Darkeyes Twins boarded Zaerith’s ship, it differed from Byron’s ship but they learned that it served the same function. The ship lifted into the air and traversed the sea, they were headed back to Rienland.

“What are you?” Darella asked.

“My race you mean? I am Githyanki.” Zaerith answered with his hand on the helm.

“What is a Githyanki.” Darella said.

“We rarely leave the Astral Sea to come to your plane, now no more questions. I shall give you my full story when we find the Wolf-man.” Zaerith said.

They landed outside of the great walled city of Kraggenmoor now covered in a thick blanket of winter white.

“He’s been here all this time?” Amarella asked angrily.

The twins and the two quiet figures walked into town and walked the streets. They found Leomourn on horseback with a posse of other men. They were all wearing similar armament and cloaks. Darella picked up a stone and threw it at the back of Leomourn’s head. The whole of the outfit turned round and encircled the four pedestrians, some had knocked an arrow and had taken aim, others had spearheads pointed.

“Who dares assault the Guard Captain of Kraggenmoor!?” One of the men said

“Captain?” Darella laughed.

“And dares mock him. Men!” The man said.

“Halt! I know these people, er two of them rather. Grant us privacy.” Leomourn said, his men lead their mounts away. Leomourn got off his horse.

“You have been toiling around here for nine months?! Did you not think to even tell me where you were?!” Amarella said slapping Leomourn on the arms.

“We must act quickly. He may not have much longer.” Zaerith said.

“Who? What is he talking about? Who are these people?” Leomourn asked.

“We’ll tell you. First we need to find a quiet place. We are going to leave so gather your things.” Darella said.

“Where are we going? I was just about to go out on a hunt.” Leomourn said thrusting a thumb over his shoulder pointing at his mates.

“Good, then you’re prepared. Let’s go, settle your affairs.” Zaerith said, and walked away.

“Wait! Who is this guy? What’s going on.” Leomourn said.

“Just do as he says.” Amarella said and glared at Leomourn, he obeyed immediately.

“Harold, I am leaving. Until my return you are Alpha. Wulver you are Beta.” Leomourn said, the two addressed men raised fists to their chests.

“And Larry still remains Omega, right sir?” The one called Harold said.

“Of course.” Leomourn said, smiling. As he finished saying this a small man in the throng of men was met with a number of blows as his friends punched him in mockery.

The men rode their mounts out of the city and as they were out of sight, an ovation of howls was heard upon the wind. The melody of the notes gave the illusion of many more voices than there was. These were the howling of the wolf-men that had been traveling with Leomourn, the guards of Kraggenmoor.

“So what is up?” Leomourn asked as they stood near the ship just outside the city gates.

“I am Zaerith, and this is Wind. We are Knights of Madness. We are here to interrogate you.” Zaerith said.

“Whoa! Interrogate! What is this about!? I swear she said she was…” Leomourn exclaimed, and then promptly stopped.

“We are hunting an individual that we know to have made contact with you. We want to know a few things and in exchange we will give you information that will be useful to you.” Zaerith said, his large partner remained silent.

“What information?” Leomourn asked.

“I will not bore you with the history of my people, but I shall tell you that we are the descendants of a race who were enslaved by the Illithids. We have since gained our freedom and have vowed to the destruction of the vile race. I am an eminent hunter of these abominations of august reputation. I have killed countless of these disgusting creatures and have been charged with the extermination of a specific one who has been flagged as a potential threat to the status quo. This creature is known as ”/characters/eldranoth" class=“wiki-content-link”>Eldranoth, and I have knowledge of your interaction with him." Zaerith said.

“Oh, him.” Leomourn said.

“I know that he has pulled you into his evil machinations of tergiversation. We have followed you through the ”/wikis/bellamins-tower" class=“wiki-page-link”> mansion to the imprisonment and all the way to the ice tower and on to the desert city. We have finally found you and wish to ask a few questions." Zaerith said.

“Go on then.” Leomourn said.

“Well firstly where Eldranoth is.” Zaerith said.

“We do not know, we have lost track of him through time and space. Last we know he was visiting a priest in Felden a few centuries ago.” Leomourn said flicking a leaf from his boot.

“Right, well we have found out that he has disenchanted ”/wikis/the-ther" class=“wiki-page-link”> The Æther and has achieved lichdom. An Illithid is a nasty foe to rid the land of but an Alhoon is something far more difficult to destroy, but not impossible. That is why Wind has joined my cause." Zaerith said pointing at his silent partner.

“But we need to know one thing. A lich becomes indestructible by placing his or her soul into a phylactery. This grants him the ability to become physically destroyed but subsist, only needing to find another material body or summoning his old one through the dark art. A lich’s phylactery has to be something that has been within contact with the person long enough to have absorbed enough of his essence to hold his soul. An item must have maintained regular contact for at least ten or twenty years to become in synchronous with the potential lich to receive his soul and contain it. Our question for you is if during your interaction with this beast you have noticed an item that he has kept with him, most of the time the item is very dear to the person. We need to know as soon as possible so that we can find the item before he hides it and becomes an unstoppable force. The fact that Eldranoth can move through time makes this even more difficult.” Zaerith said.

“The locket.” Darella whispered.

“Yes!” Amarella agreed.

“A locket?” Zaerith asked intrigued, Wind straightened.

“Yes, there was a locket that had been taken from him by ”/wikis/to-what-length-part-i" class=“wiki-page-link”> a hag while he slept. He made us retrieve it for him." Darella said.

“It belonged to his sister…er…Langston’s sister." Amarella remembered.

“Are you certain that this is an item that he would have carried on his person for a long while?” Zaerith asked.

“I would assume, he seemed pretty mad to have lost it and told us to get it for him.” Leomourn said.

“Right. Then we need to locate and destroy this locket to rid the world of this monster. As for your payment. We have been watching you and your comrades for a time now. We have lost contact with your elf friend but as for the dvergr, I must tell you that he is in dire need of your aid.” Zaerith said.

“Delgen? Where has he been?” Leomourn asked, trying not to sound apprehensive.

‘He had been traveling as a Chrononaut and was pulled into a portal against his will.’ Zaerith said.

“How do you know that?” Amarella asked

‘As I have said, we have been watching over you and everyone who has had contact with The Adversary for quite some time.’ Zaerith said.

“The Adversary?” Leomourn asked.

“A legendary illithid that takes on the host’s personality and memory, either partially or in its entirety. This “Adversary” would, mind and soul, still be the host, but with all the inherent abilities of an illithid. Most importantly the fact that the soul still exists in a way but is destroyed. The soul exists like an echo in the mind of the Illithid, but will never know the paradise of peace. Given the facts that Eldranoth attacked and killed his brothers and retains memories and nightmares of his host’s life, leads us to believe he may in fact be The Adversary. We do not know what implications this may hold, but nonetheless he is still a threat." Zaerith said, getting heated and visibly excited.

“Okay, back to Delgen.” Leomourn said.

“He was lost to us as well, but we have brought along a portalist who can help you locate him and send you to find him.” Zaerith said and called out, soon a small old man came down from the grounded ship and walked up to them.

“You have ten words to send your friend through this spell, make them count.” The old man said as he opened his palms and a small glowing dove made of pure energy fluttered it’s wings and looked side to side. It pulsated with light as Darella bent down and spoke to the bird.

“Umm. Where are you? Are you okay? Darkeyes Twins.” Darella shrugged. The dove tilted it’s head to one side and nodded.

“Is this sufficient?” The old man asked. Darella nodded with a shrug.

```

Delgen opened his eyes to a world upside-down. Once he realized he was hanging from his ankles he mentally rearranged the locale to better place his situation. He noticed that his feet were bearing the bulk of his weight as he hung there in a dark and dank room, he also realized that there he was bound with crude but strong leather straps at his knees around the paunch and at his shoulders. He was bound to a table able to tilt, as he was. Delgen was familiar with torture devices, as some human and orc clerics used in their perverted campaigns of truth and conversion.

The cleric of Moradin looked about the room, using his innate dwarven geolocating sense discerned was one story below the local ground level. He noticed tools of beating, searing and cutting tools. More gruesome he found within the reversed view: abacination tools, castrating tools, tools for denailing, choking, crushing, flaggelation, garroting, strappado ropes, and tubs for dunking. Delgen would have lost his breakfast if he had had one. His stomach growled loudly, causing him to worry if any living souls would have heard it but when he looked around he saw half-dead corpses and worse yet dead half-corpses within half of the torturing devices within this charnel (de)basement.

Before Delgen could assume his location or how he could have found himself in such a predicament; a white bird of energy flew to his shoulder and whispered into his ear after pecking at his beard. His face relaxed in a small smile of relief. He turned his head and spoke to the bird.

“Plague-Mort. Gate City. Bring weapons. Trust no one.” The bird nuzzled into the dwarf’s mustache before flying away, straight through a stone wall.

“Plague-what?” Leomourn asked.

“Plague-Mort. A gate-city on the Concordant Domain of the Outlands. Gate-towns are settlements which are built around a permanent portal to a certain Outer Plane on the Great Wheel. Gate-towns are important strategically because they provide a relatively stable way to enter a desired Outer Plane. The gate-towns reflect the plane that they lead to, for example, Xaos is a town where everything changes from one moment to the next. Even the location of the portal to Limbo changes every day – not that there’s any regularity to daybreak and nightfall in Xaos. The character of Xaos mirrors what the plane of Limbo is like. Plague-Mort leading to the Abyss is a diseased realm of squalor and verminous fecundity, choked with razorvine and bizarre alien parasites. People there are so desperate that they have taken to the worship of the Lady of Pain en masse, constructing their makeshift mud hovels with blades atop them in the hopes of placating her. They pass their days agonizingly trying to numb their pain beneath layers of hard vices, slowly mutating into forms less and less recognizable. Elsewhere in the city, in massive cruel fortresses, the rich and powerful parade inhuman wealth and power before the suffering masses.” Zaerith said.

“Sounds horrible.” Amarella said.

“But that is our destination. You said you could get us there right?” Darella said earnestly.

The three warriors and the automaton walked out of a red portal and were met with hundreds of eyes upon them. They looked about and saw a grey macabre city of death and pain. The sky was on fire, but the city was still in shadows. There was razorwire everywhere, on tops of buildings, closing off alleyways, and at times just randomly growing in places hard to see. The hundreds of onlookers stared one or two jumped forward but seemed to change their mind once they sized up the newcomers, everyone went about their own ways acting as if nothing had happened. The interlopers walked down the three stone-hewn steps that divided the dais of the portal of the ground.

“What should we do, now that we are here?” Amarella said.

“I shall call Salvatore.” Darella said, as she pulled a small silver whistle from her belt and blew strongly into the windway. The silver did not make a sound. Darella put the instrument away much to the other’s confusion as they had assumed it had not worked. A few moments past and there was a small pop.

“I am at your service, my Lady.” Salvatore said as he unsheathed his sword and knelt presenting the flat of his blade to Darella with head bowed.

“At ease.” Darella said as she stepped forth to scratch the Archon’s head.

“As you will.” The red hound said, standing.

“We seek your council and perhaps aid.” Darella said.

“The sun and moon for my lady.” Salvatore said, Leomourn rolled his eyes and stepped away.

“We are looking for Delgen, our dwarfen friend.” Darella said.

“I recall the very one. I shall track his location in this foul place. The smell of a dwarf miner shall be a pungent trail to follow even in this formidable land, god’s body I smell naught but sin and fetor.” Salvatore said and promptly he became a full hound and started to sniff the air and ground.

“I can track too…wait! Delgen’s breastplate!” Leomourn said, pointing at a small demon walking through the throng of demons in the main forum.

“After him!” Darella screamed. They grabbed the stout fat demon and pulled him into an alley.

“Away! I did nothing to you!” The fat demon screamed.

“The armour where did you get it?” Darella asked forcefully, noticing that it verily was Deglen’s.

“I bought it fair. I promise.” The fat one said.

“From whom!?” Leomourn snarled, pointing at the demon.

“The Plague-Keeper.” The demon started to whimper.

“Where is this Plague-Keeper?” Amarella asked."

“I don’t know, I met one of her thralls at the Gutted Virgin…this is not fair! I bought this armour! It’s mine!” The fat daemon screamed like a stuck pig.

“How much did you pay for it?” Darella asked.

“Seventy-five mammons! It has a dent.” The demon said.

“I don’t have the local currency, but here is one hundred gold crowns.” Darella said handing over a small coin purse, her comrades all raised an eyebrow.

“M’lady, allow me to debit this payment. I can not allow you to spend even a copper in my sight.” Salvatore said stepping forth with a purse. Darella put up an arm and shooed the archon away.

“These will do just fine.” The demon said pulling the armour off his back, a horrid sound was heard with a few hundred maggots fell from open wounds all over the daemon’s now naked body and writhed on the black-cobble stoned alley.

The small demon walked away and was lost in the crowded streets. Darella opened her hands and they were full of gold, she had cut the purse and while the small demon was taking the armour off she had caught the coins like candy.

They quickly walked in and right back out of the The Gutted Virgin with averted gazes and rapidly gathered information. They made their way to the place where they were told the Plague-Keeper deals in her “experiments.”

After surveying the building they decided upon an attack on two fronts. The twins and Bernard choose to climb through a ventilated window after stopping a slow but sharp bladed fan with an immovable rod. Salvatore and Leomourn were to come in the front door. It was a sound plan…but then…

Leomourn kicked his enchanted horse in the ribs causing it to rear and kick down the door, rotten wood exploded everywhere. In almost the same instant Bernard, with only the finesse borne of an automaton’s tact. There was a clatter of metal on metal and the din of it all seemed to rouse the attention of the hovel’s inhabitant.

“What is all this noise?” A raspy voice said from a room within. Soon a small and twisted form of a hag-like creature with a burning head stepped forward and down the stairs leading to where Darella was helping the metal man back to his feet.

“What is all this noise?! What indeed! All this clutter!” Darella said after mustering her courage and thinking of a way to bluff their way out of this…also after hiding under her dark hood, hoping to seem more menacing and local.

“Excuse me?” The Plague-Keeper said.

“We are here on official business…to retrieve and relocated the detained dwarf you have in your possession.” Darella said spotting and pointing towards the half-dead and hanging body of Delgen.

“Under whose command?” The Plague-Keeper asked tightening her grip on her staff and noticing the two interlopers on the next level. Salvatore had ran in and had his broken sword drawn, held poised to kill in a low stance. Leomourn had ducked into the door with his bow pointing an arrow at the hag, still mounted on his horse that was halfway into the threshold.

“How dare you ask!” Darella said, her voice breaking with fear and awe.

“I have just come from the Arch Lector…I…” The Plague-Keeper started.

“The Arch Lector! He is the voice and we are the hand. Curse you to defy his will.” Darella said with a bellowing voice, stepping towards the hag.

“I know I should not trust you, but I don’t want to defy the Arch Lector.” The Plague-Keeper said after looking at the large woman coming through the window after the Shield Guardian.

As the Plague-Keeper walked past Darella she tore her hood off and looked around in confusion and awe at her comrades. Their visages bore naught but sheer confusion as hers. The rogue shrugged her shoulders and took her knife from her belt and drove it deep into the hag’s back. The blade pierced deeply and found it’s mark…a vital organ not like any a human has or elf, but one that was innately noticed by the trained eye of a rogue after a time of watching the hag’s breathing patterns and movement.

“How did you talk your way out of that one?!” Amarella asked, bent and racked with laughter.

“I don’t know it was a just a bluff!” Darella said, cleaning her blade with the dead hag’s robes.

“That was a critical success!” Salvatore screamed as he jumped down to their level.

“Is the dwarf in there?” Leomourn asked, still on his mount…arrow still nocked.

“Yes…I’m in here. Get me down…I’d bet my face is as red as a firebeet.” Delgen growled from the torture table in the room.

After freeing their friend from the table they all looked around and noticed all the half-dead prisoners and the dead and rotting ones too.

“What can we do for them?” Amarella asked, noticing that most of them were humanoid…not demons.

“Nothing…even if we freed them, they could not flee this place and we can not carry them.” Salvatore said looking around.

“The witch was experimenting all her plagues on us. She was looking for the ultimate malady…to infect the whole city…and then cities on other planes. She worked for the Arch Lector, to keep the city in fear and weak until the Sinking.” Delgen said rubbing his aches and cuts.

“What is the Sinking?” Darella asked.

“Every ninety-nine years Plague-Mort sinks down into the Abyss, making a new layer. The Arch Lector’s duty is to bring in as many souls and keep them until the Sinking, for once they sink they are part of the fighting Abyss. The Arch Lector is promised his freedom to come back and rule over the next Plague-Mort.” Salvatore said.

“That is why non-daemons are brought here, but faulty portals or banished here?” Amarella said looking at the carcasses decorating the chamber like some grotesque museum.

“Maybe that is how I was brought here?!” Delgen said.

“Yeah, why in all the hells are you here.” Leomourn said with a smirk.

“I did not intend to spend my holiday’s on a torture table with a hag, per se. I was actually on a mission to Excelsior…Time Fixer official business. Making sure a colleague was not hurt or dead…or worse had defaulted.” Delgen said.

“Excelsior! I would give my tail to be there now.” Salvatore said wagging his aforementioned tail.

“All I remember was navigating the Time Seas towards The Outlands…the Hammerhead lurched and listed…I fell, I must have hit my head. Then I woke up in this damned place. The cursed witch cut and poisoned me for nine months after that. I angered her because none of her plagues could do me in. It is my stone heart, really pissed her off. I laughed as she threw vials and beat her thralls.” Delgen said smiling.

“Thralls?! That means someone will be checking up on her soon! We need to vanish.” Darella said, looking for alternate routes of escape.

“The plague.” Amarella said.

“What about it?” Delgen said.

“Even though she is dead, her followers may release it.” Amarella said.

“So, everyone is this horrid town is a demon anyway.” Leomourn said

“True, but we are still in the city.” Darella said.

The party walked away from a burning stone building, reunited with their cleric and headed into the darker corners of the city.

“So…now that we have him…how do we get out of the this place?” Leomourn said, after they all ran into an abandoned alleyway and leaned against the every moist black walls that were the skeleton of this haunted city.

“That is where I come in.” A voice said from the darkness. Everyone jumped from the black walls and drew their weapons.

“Delgen?” Leomourn asked.

“My dwarf eyes see what you see…nothing.” Delgen said.

“Be at ease, and pray sheathe your weapons.” The voice said, and then a head appeared, floating in the middle of the alley; a safe distance from the others.

“What is this magic?” Leomourn said.

“I am Jimmy the Mouth.” The head said as his body flicked into existence.

“Nice cloak.” Darella said, noticing the magic of the man’s cloak as he became visible upon pulling the hood back. He responded with a quick smile.

“We can boast our fancies when we are far from this place, now back to the matter at hand.” Jimmy the Mouth said.

“Go on.” Delgen said.

“You all want to leave this place, and by the looks of you all you want to get back to the Prime, no?” Jimmy asked.

“Aye.” Delgen said leaning on his hammer.

“Well it just so happens that I share this yearning.” Jimmy said.

“On with it.” Delgen rolled his eyes.

“Right, I like your directness. Okay, this town is going to be lost to the Abyss in an even called the Sinking-” Jimmy began.

“We know that!” Leomourn said.

“Of course. Well then naturally you know that the Sinking has begun and this whole damned city will be in the Abyss by midnight tonight.” Jimmy said crossing his arms.

“What?” Leomourn dropped his bow, Salvatore’s ears perked.

“Speak Mouth!” Delgen screamed and pointed.

“Okay there is an Orrery under these streets that upon midnight will send this city to hell…or the abyss more accurately. It is a secret to most save for the Arch Lector and I of course.” Jimmy said with a smile.

“On with the prattle.” Delgen said.

“As you will, clear a path to this Orrery and it can be set to send you where ever you desire within the multi-verse.” Jimmy said with a flourish.

“And who will operate this device?” Delgen asked.

“I will follow you under the veil of shadows and if and when you get to the end, I will operate the Orrery.” Jimmy said.

“The shadow is my realm.” Darella said.

“And by what authority are you given to use this Orrery…no doubt it is dwarfen in manufacture.” Delgen said looking stern.

“I am a portalist, I promise you that I can get out of this city.” Jimmy said with a sly smile.

“Exactly…and how can we trust you to get us out safely?” Darella said, sizing the man.

“You can’t, but what other option do you have?” Jimmy said turning away from them.

“Why are you here? You are no demon, at least upon sight.” Leomourn said squinting.

“I was banished here as a punishment, for no cage can hold me on the Prime.” Jimmy said, winking at Darella.

“What was your crime to endure such a bleak and absolute penance?” Delgen asked.

“I was a King’s Portalist, and I tinkered with his destination.” Jimmy the Mouth said, with a smile and a wink.

“Tell me again why we are going to trust this traitor.” Leomourn said as they were crawling beneathe the dark and sinful city of Plague-Mort.

“We are not trusting him, but we have no other choice.” Darella said; leading the procession, navigating their way from a crude map Jimmy gave to them.

“We are but metres under the city, but we are slowly descending.” Delgen said, after his eyes rolled into the back of his face.

“More importantly, we are five hours from the witching hours, therefore we have less than two hours to find this Orrery and hope to the gods that Jimmy fellow is half as good with the device as he is with wordplay and pomposity.” Salvatore said sniffing the dank air.

“What? You can smell time?” Leomourn asked, but was silenced when Darella crouched and threw a clenched fist into the air.

They fought their way through ratmen and undead and choose one of three alternate routes to the final chamber deep beneath the bloody and pussy streets of Plague-Mort. They finally walked through the steel doors and were met with a large chamber filled with barrels and undead walkers.

“There are some feathered demons up there.” Darella said pointing, Leomourn clicked his heels and rose into the air.

“When did he learn to do that?” Delgen asked looking around. The levitating archer roused the attention of all foes within the room but only the undead seemed to take heed. The three bone-white feathered demons continued in a foul and grotesque promenade, some sort of evil cavorting dance.

The warriors fought the undead as Leomourn watched the Demon Dance, in some sort of trance. He could not take his eyes off of their Dance of Ruin. He neither spoke a word nor loosed an arrow. Delgen tried with all his dwarven finesse to silently creep up the stairs to flank an attack upon the demons. Amarella was cleaving undead walker after walker as usual while her twin sister used her Shadowmancing gifts to possess the mindless shambles. Until…

The three Vrocks finished their danse in a flourish and laughed. Delgen was a mere few feet away with his hammer raise high, from this vantage he noticed that the daemons were dancing around the bronze Orrery Jimmy mentioned. All too late for from the bodies of the three demons arched white-hot energy and burned with sin and hatred. The energy arched like white lightening, first through the Dwarf, then high into the archer. It forked and traveled through each undead walker and then into Amarella, Darella and Bernard. It lastly arched high and with a loud pop connected with Salvatore, who had been fighting half a score of undead by himself. Either the arch itself or along with the wounds gained from the undead foes, caused Salvatore to fall to his knees. Darella screamed long and dropped her weapons, running to the archon.

“No.” Darella said, holding Salvatore’s head in her lap.

“I would sooner relinquish my life would that it meant not a drop of your fairest blood was lost from your blessed skin. M’Lady.” The Hound Archon said touching Darella’s cheek gently, rubbing away a tear, before exhaling his last breath.

“Don’t!” Darella said. She touched Salvatore’s face first then slapped it and then struck his chest, but to no avail. Salvatore was dead.

Feathers gently sailed on the dank air as the group stood over the three dead bodies of the dancing demons. They were quickly upon them after Salvatore fell and just as quickly dispatched them in a rage.

“Friend of yours?” Jimmy asked as he appeared a few feet from Darella, and walked past.

“Speak little, Portalist; if you value your namesake.” Delgen said softly.

“Aye. Now let me see.” Jimmy said mounting the stairs and advancing upon the Orrery.

“No, step back. Send us through safely, then you are free to use this device as you will.” Amarella said.

“We have a fallen comrade that needs attention.” Leomourn said, gesturing towards Salvatore.

“Your dog is dead.” Jimmy said, Delgen held Leomourn and Amarella back before they were upon the informant.

“Heed what you say, I have only two hands.” Delgen said, nodding behind Jimmy. Jimmy looked back and Darella was standing her eyes upon the cloaked man.

“Fine! You have done me a great favour in honesty. So, where would you like to go?” Jimmy said, stepping towards the Orrery.

“Where do we want to go?” Leomourn asked, looking at the dwarf.

“The Eye of Providence.” Darella said, a look of confusion came upon her face as if she had not known why she had spoken.

“Speak lass! I remember a thing that I had learned on me travels to Excelsior. I had heard that there was a place…and something about Eldranoth…I can’t. Right! The Time Fixers found evidence that Eldranoth was on his way to the ”/wikis/pons-observatorium" class=“wiki-page-link”> Pons Observatorium to retrieve the Eye of Providence!" Delgen said.

“The bridge of Nightmares.” Jimmy said with out tone or implication.

“Aye.” Delgen said.

“Eye.” Darella said.

“Yeah.” Leomourn said.

“No, the Eye. I had a dream, Sygg told me where his other eye was. It is on a bridge.” Darella said.

“It is settled then. A god leads you to this bridge and I am informed that Eldranoth has a heading to the very same bridge. This Pons Observatorium, send us there Mouth and no funny business.” Delgen said raising his hammer.

“I assure you, I need not make anything funny. If you are heading to the Bridge of Nightmares, you are walking into a fate far worse than any I can bestow upon you.” Jimmy said, pulling on levers and pushing buttons. He pushed a floating silver orb away until it was eclipsing another golden orb.

“Good bye.” Jimmy said, and in that instant a golden light arched from the Orrery and into the chest of each adventurer and the empty chest of Salvatore. Then Jimmy the Mouth was alone in the large dark chamber. He breathed a sigh of relief and laughed.

“One hundred and twelve years in this prison.” Jimmy said, he recalculated the Orrery and then vanished in a golden flash, and the room was once again empty.

Our adventurers found their selves upon an archaic bridge made of stone, but then of light as well. It was dark and brown of hewn stone but in the same instant was translucent reflecting the colours of the rainbow. They looked up and were lost in the exalting view that befell their eyes. Leomourn and Amarella were mesmerized by the sense of insignificance and total loss of ego, Darella choose not to look up. A single tear crept down Delgen’s cheek as he looked up nad then appeared to recover as if nothing had happened. They were not alone upon this bridge. Ahead of them they saw familiar figures, those of Zaerith Vaa’yan and Wind. Past the Knights of Madness was also the form of Eldranoth.

“You have come in time.” Zaerith said.

“What is this?” Eldranoth asked, only a moment ago he was the only one on the bridge.

“Eldranoth, I am Zaerith Vaa’yan Second Ser of the Knights of Madness. I am here to vanquish you for your crimes, do not resist or flee. There are six hundred and thirty two charges against you and you shall answer to them.” The githyanki said drawing his Silver Sword, it glistened and changed shape as Zaerith’s words changed and intoned with emotion and conviction.

“New playmates.” Eldranoth said as he advanced and there was an immense battle between Alhoon, Githyanki and Marut. There was blood and pain and the sound of metal upon metal and flesh before all eyes witnessed something daring and unexpected.

Eldranoth spun and leapt from the bridge and fell down into the dark depths that lead only to the chaotic and nightmarish realms of the Far Realms below.

“Don’t let them get the Eye, Darella!” Eldranoth called out as he fell. Zaerith and Wind had leapt after the Illithid and were both quickly falling into the turbulent and deranged tides of madness and delirium home to the denizens of aberration and deception. The realm of fear and phantasmagoria.

Then they were alone on the bridge, until a loud pop was heard and one side of the bridge appeared the form of the dreaded Fafnir dragging a shape behind him. The giant flew through the expanse effortlessly pulling along the form of a great big dark wolf, attached by a tether like a creance in this space.

“Whoa. This is unexpected.” Delgen said shaking Leomourn from his hypnosis.

“What?” Leomourn rubbed his eyes.

“You have a visitor.” Delgen turned Leomourn by the shoulder until he was facing the oncoming giant.

“Hound! I shall be the Duke!” Fafnir screamed as he tugged at the lesh that held the huge black wolf, hurling it towards the bridge.

“Friends, be awares!” Delgen screamed, pulling his hammer to full length. Amarella took an amulet from her tunic and over her head. She swung the amulet in a large circle about her head, when the amulet was spinning at a certain speed and howled in a certain tone, thirteen shield maidens appeared on the bridge with them awaiting Amarella’s command.

The grey wolf landed on the bridge, gathered itself and began an assault upon all upon the bridge. Darella took this time to climb the height of the bridge, away from the fight and to see what other surprises this bridge held…hopefully the location of the eye.

“Your goddess can not save you here!” Fafnir bellowed. Darella climbed to the top found an odd revelation and then used her pantalones of teleportation to appear upon the giant’s back, sticking to his nape like a briar with the aid of her boots of arachnia.

The battle upon the bridge was growing bloodier and tighter upon the narrow bridge. Leomourn focused most of his shots upon the giant as Amarella and her Valkyries fought the dark beast, Delgen aiding as it was needed.

Darella stabbed into the giant’s back and noted that it did little to slow his attack, but increased his ire. She remembered two things. She teleported back to the bridge and waited for the giant to charge as he usually did with the spear of disruption. She dodged limbs and blows while watching and waiting. Fafnir drew back and finally charged, Leomourn being the target of this mighty attack. Darella drew an item from beneath her cloak and then teleported.

Darella appeared before the giant’s charging face and placed an immovable rod in space and clicked the button. Fafnir’s charge was much to fast to halt or change direction. Fafnir continued, causing the immovable rod to press upon and burst his eye and enter his skull. The giant screamed as his whole body was tossed about as his charge was yielded by a metal rod in his head. The giant pulled back from the rod and even more fluid and blood dripped from the wound. Darella quickly crawled upon his head and grabbed the rod covered in ocular fluid and blood. She then drew two amulets from deep under her tunic and split them stuffing one into the giant’s mouth.

The dark rogue threw the other amulet into the expanse and kicked off the now falling giant. Darella used the amulet of anti-magic to negate the flight of the giant and leapt into space. At the zenith of her leap she pressed the button on the immovable rod and spun around the now stationary rod and pressed it again using the force of her loop to carry her the rest of the way back on to the Bridge of Nightmares.

“Monster! Destroy the Hound, destroy your brother!” Fafnir called in a raspy voice, as he fell towards the Far Realms.

“Brother?” Leomourn said. He dropped his arrows and bow and looked directly into the beast’s eyes. The grey wolf came down upon the archer in a snarling visage of spittle and fang. Leomourn spoke in a guttural and unintelligible language and the black beast halted it’s advance and bowed it’s head to Leomourn.

View
The Harbinger
A Seven-pointed Murder

“Glinda, be at ease. We do not intend on the removal of the tome.” Amarella insured the half-orc.

“Don’t we?” Leomourn pleaded.

“We just need to write one man’s death upon the pages.” Delgen said.

“Fine, but it will not leave my possession.” Glinda said as she turned the dusty book in her hands and presented it to her comrades.

“What was his name?” Leomourn asked moving to the book.

“Move over, it’s Surekh Al’ Sharif.” Darella said as she pulled the quill from the crease in the pages and stabbed it into her flesh drawing blood as ink from an inkwell. She started writing, but fell to the ground faint.

“Darella!” Amarella screamed and attended her sister, but quickly finding out that she was not dead.

“The graver the wish the more it takes from you.” Glinda said.

“I’ll give it a whirl.” Delgen said,“Now let’s see, what would be the most fitting death for so wretched a tyrant as Al’Sharif? Torn apart by wild dogs, perhaps? No far too messy, Perhaps some sort of auto-erotic asphy—”

Behind the party Glinda softly cleared her throat. “Master Delgen,any haste on your part would be welcomed.”

“Of course, of course,” mumbled the dwarf as he copied the Rogue’s actions. As he brought the blood-tipped quill to page he felt his an icy hand grip his heart. Gritting his teeth he scrawled the pen across the page, each letter stroke drawing even more of his life force.

With the remaining T’s safely crossed and I’s finally dotted, Delgen fell to his knees in exhaustion. The party crowded around him, not to help, but to see to what macabre fate the crazy old dwarf had condemned Al’Sharif.

Amalyn’s eyes went wide as she read from the book, “Surekh Al’Sharif died while addressing his loyal subjects. Suffering a massive heart attack, Al’Sharif’s final words were to inform his people that he had soiled himself.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Amarella cried, looking down at the old dwarf as he wheezed and chuckled to himself.

“How do we know if it worked?” Leomourn said, sitting in the middle of the chamber.


Surek looked down upon the countless followers and could not help but smile. This must be how a parent feels, he thought, when they see the blind love and devotion in the eyes of their gurgling, vapid children.

He raised his hands and a sudden silence washed through the adoring throngs. The people seemed to be under his complete control, eager to follow his command. Despite the day’s sweltering heat he felt himself covered in a cold sweat. He considered it only for the briefest of moments before returning his mind to the thousands of eyes upon him and the work he must do.

He was to deliver his great speech today, one that would finally turn the tide of public opinion against the triumvirate. He would receive cheers and adulation. These people would be on their knees weeping at his very words. Minstrels and Bards would spread tales of the event far across Rienland. The public would cheer for the oncoming wave of industrialization, with him as its head, and the Triumvirate would fail. Yes, Surekh Al’Sharif was on the verge of altering the course of history and nothing could stop him now. Having paused long enough to have achieved the appropriate amount of drama, he began.

“My people, open your ears to me and know my words, for there could be nothing more important for you to hear.”

That was when he felt the sudden stab of pain in his left arm. He ignored it; just a muscle cramp. He must not falter now, not even a bit. The moment was too important.

“For too long the Triumvirate has bound the wheels of progress, well I say no longer! We must take our fate into our own hands.”

He couldn’t ignore it. Slowly but surely, the pain was spreading. His chest felt tight and he became aware of the unbearable fullness of his bowels. He faltered suddenly, catching himself on the pulpit in front of him. The feeling of pressure inside his torso was growing, but still he was determined to make the speech.

“What I tell you today could alter Rienland forever. Listen carefully to these words.”

Despite being nearly doubled over in pain Surekh felt the pressure give way in his lower abdomen. From the looks on the faces of his shocked attendants he immediately deduced what exactly had happened. As the pain in his arm and chest slowly gave way to strange numbness Surekh managed one final rasp of breath.

“I…have shat myself.”

And with those final words the once all-powerful despot slumped forward dead and covered in his own filth in front of his loyal followers.


“Congratulations. You have killed Surekh.” A bodiless voice said within all of their heads.

“What? Who? Is it that genie again?” Leomourn asked looking about.

“I am freed of my duties. I will provide a portal from this temple. I am afraid that there is a small matter of which I have withheld information.” The djinn materialized within the chamber.

“There is always a catch.” Leomourn said.

“Not truly a catch, your task is completed. Though as I have mentioned, in providing Surekh with extended life I siphoned an ancient magic from the well. The essence of that magic is still within the body of Surekh. I now ask you to place the corpse of Surekh within the well to return things to normalcy.” Tal Rasha said.

“Great.” Leomourn said, falling back and lay upon the stone floor.

“Of course you can just walk through this portal and retrieve what is yours and go own your way, but carry with you the burden of knowing that this drought was perpetuated by your decision.” Tal Rasha

“Great.” Amarella said.

“We will do the act.” Delgen said, picking himself up and walking to the swirling and rippling portal that had appeared in the chamber.

“Here is the body. But feel free to use the book as well, you have truly proven worthy of it’s power. Do with it as you will, the greater the act the more taxing it is upon your soul and body though. If the book deems the request worthy you shall live, if not you can harm yourself if not kill yourself.” Tal Rasha said and with a gesture of his hand a corpse materialized and fell to the floor upsetting the dust.

They all took turns writing in the book.

Delgen grabbed the body by the scruff of the silken tunic and dragged the thing through the portal, the toes of the man’s boots carving lines in the dust. Delgen appeared on the other side of the portal in the bright heat of a desert. The others followed.

“You’re just in time! Come! I have tracked the beast! What are you going here anyway?” Griff Byron said as he ran by them.

“What? What are you doing here?” Leomourn asked.

“Make haste, I have found the Dry Kraken.” Griff said as he pulled his many pistols in the half-cocked position.

“Dry Kraken? What?” Leomourn said as he jogged along keeping pace with the erratic temponaut.

“There is an ancient beast that has been placed in this desert that according to my superiors will prevent the advancement of history, if it is not disposed of.” Byron said.

“Where is this well we are looking for?” Leomourn looked back.

“I hope it is bloody close, Surekh’s body is heavy.” Delgen said, dragging the corpse through the golden sand.

“A well, huh?” Byron asked.

“Yeah, why?” Leomourn said, as they ran around a large stone. What came into view drew a gasp from everyone as they quickly drew back behind the stone to gain cover. The aberration that fell upon their eye was a shambling mound of writhing and whipping tentacles half buried in the ancient sands. The whole thing was wrapped in stained and yellowed cloth similar to the style of the buried dead of Shanartha that could be found in giant stone coffins. This thing kept vigil gently undulating within its pool of warm sand.

“It is called a Crawling Apocalypse. The old desert mages learned the art of preserving the dead. Eventually wrapping bigger and more vile creatures. The northern sailors were paid generous purses of gold to trap and produce as many krakens as they could. They were given special nets and ships made by the elves to aid them in the hunt. The tribes of man found six of the vile leviathans, this is one of such abominations. I have killed two before.” Byron said, looking on to the giant wrapped beast as its sere tentacles waved in the heat.

“And there is a well behind it!” Darella said.

“Looks like our paths truly cross.” Griff said.

“Shall we?” Delgen said.
They all nodded and ran out from their vantage and were upon the thing within seconds. Unloosing all their munitions upon the undead thing.

“Anything we should know about this Creeping Apocalypse, Bronwyn?” Delgen said as he threw his hammer. There was a loud thud as the hammer smashed into the creature’s pulsating mass and promptly returned back to the cleric’s hand.

“The wraps that keep the thing together and reanimated are highly flammable! The oils and salves are of the most combustibility.” Byron said.
As everyone began using fire and fire magicks Darella phase stepped upon the thing’s dried back, it there ever was a discernible front or back or top and bottom. Plunging her dagger deep into the creature’s head. Perhaps the dagger or the combination of the blade and the consuming flame brought the creature to a halt and it lay atop the fiery sands defeated.

“Well, to the Well.” Delgen said as he went to retrieve the body of Surekh.

“Wait! Are you not going to drink from the Well of Al’Sharaz first?” Byron asked.

“Should we?” Delgen asked.

“Legend says that it bestows an ancient blessing from the elemental plane of water upon the drinker.” Byron said.

“Are you sure? You didn’t even seem to know that this well was even here just a while ago.” Leomourn said.

“I just looked at the name carved at the base of the thing and recalled the lore.” Griff said pointing at the well

“You first.” Leomourn said.

“Fine.” Griff said as he turned the pulley bringing up a stone pail full of water, after a long while of turning.

“Here’s to you.” Byron said drinking a portion looking well satisfied afterwards.

“It works!” Griff said, the others drank.

“So where to?” Byron asked. He turned a nob on a device on his forearm and a gigantic ship appeared high in the air off in the distance. Griff made gestures with his left hand and the ship turned in the air and approached the group as a great floating hound seemingly answering Griff’s gestures.

A very long and extended argument took place pertaining their next destination.

“Maybe you all can just get on the boat and we can discuss this as we’re moving, it is too hot to have this debate on the burning sands!” Called Byron from high in the air shaking the rope ladder he had climbed unnoticed as they fought.

They slowly climbed the hemp rungs while further arguing about their heading. Leomourn was second to last and reached out to grasp Griff’s outstretched forearm to aid the boarding of the zeitship. Just as Leomourn’s hand was to make contact, Griff looked confused and pulled back.

“What?! That’s weird.” Griff said. In straightening, Griff caused Leomourn to fall back, he reached out for a rung or anything to grasp, but to no avail. He fell back, his feet getting caught in the rungs and tangled. He crashed into Delgen.

“What are you doing, boy?! You are supposed to be deft.” Delgen said wrapping his arms in the rungs to insure his tenacity to the ladder.

“Griff let me fall! Help!” Leomourn screamed grabbing at the arrows falling from his quiver, grabbing most of them.

“What-Griff! What are you playing at Byron!?” Delgen said pointing up.

“I’m sorry there is an anomaly! I must man the wheel, help them!” Griff said to the three girls who were in a confused state petrified until now. They grabbed at the archer’s feet and tried to pull him upon the ship that at that moment lurched forward, causing Leomourn’s left foot to be liberated from the hempen ladder causing him to dangle in a mock of the twelfth trump card in a charlatan’s deck.

The Death cut through the desert air like a bird or a fish in the water. It continued forward at a fast pace, many knots faster than a water ship. From Leomourn’s vantage a most peculiar scene unraveled in the upside-down world he was seeing.

The sky was rent a few miles away and colours he could never put a name to spilled into the world and diffused into the sky. From the wound in the sky came thrusting through the tip of what appeared to be a spear and then an arm and a large man. The man was armoured in metallic armour and his skin held an azure patina in the sunlight. Despite the water flowing back into the world, the chilled skin of the giant caused a mist and drew line across the sky as the frost melted and fell to the ground like a rain. A Frost Giant had just ripped trough the sky or reality itself and started to fly in the direction of the ship.

“You can run no longer boy!” The giant screamed.

“What’s happening?!” Delgen asked trying to crane his neck, at the same time moving Leomourn’s bulk from of his line of view and remain attached to the rope all at once.

“Make haste! I need aid! Ladies, you are are to be my boatswains! Quickly, witch take the foresail, theif-gurl take the lateen mizzen, facelessone! The mainsail is yours!”

“What the-what?” Amalyn said, the sisters ran to sails and began ripping at riggings and pulling ropes and by chance sails were coming up and filling with wind.

“What about me!?” Leomourn screamed.

“Stuff it! Give me your hand, drop the arrows.” Delgen said.

“Little scoundrel! I shall stick you like a fish. I will make my master proud! Yes, he who slays the Fourth Hound of Al’handra will become Duke of Nyght!” Screamed the Frost Giant as it threw a large rock at Leomourn. The rock missed and hit the ships hull causing a large crash and sound of splintered oak, much more pleasing than splintered bone. The giant thrust his spear through the air and was propelled forward.

“Do you know this guy?” Delgen asked as he pulled Leomourn’s bow from it’s place on the quiver.

“No, never seen-oh no…” Leomourn said, dropping a handful of arrows.

“What? What did you do to piss this guy off?” Delgen said handing the bow to the archer, as the giant was gaining on the ship. The giant was close enough to thrust the spear at the hanging archer, a lurch in the ship made the hempen ladder jostle and move the dwarf and archer swing out of the way as the crackling spearhead cut through the air and space and time. The tip burst through the hull of the ship and the oaken caravel’s hull shattered and disintegrated as dust in the time distruption caused by the spear.

“Quickly tie down the sails! We need to gain distance and I can activate the TMP. Horse the sail, Amarella! Abeam to port!” Byron said.

“What?” Amarella said as she looked back over her shoulder.

“Pull the main boom to your left. The rigging would be too slow in this situation. We need to change courses quickly, and you are big enough to do it with brute strength.” Byron said this and Amarella understood. She grabbed the boom and ran portside, the ship lurched to the right fast and hard.

“Who is this guy Leomourn?!” Delgen screamed.

“I think this is the giant who took my mother!” Leomourn said, he nocked and fired an arrow. The arrow deflected off the giant’s armour.

“Here! Take this!” Delgen said, flipping his hammer in his hand and slammed it hard against Leomourn’s chest clanking against the armour.

“What?! Why? This is your hammer! I don’t know how to use it!” Leomourn said scrambling to grab the hammer, dropping more arrows in the process.

“This is your fight. You need this. Just throw it.” Delgen said, taking the bow from Leomourn.

The giant had fallen a bit behind during this exchange but thrusted the spear forward and sped close. After advancing enough he took a horizontal swing of the spear first cutting through the hull once again and then the hemp rope from which Leomourn and Delgen were hanging precariously. They fell before they knew what had happened.

Leomourn felt the sensation of free fall and had almost given up. Ever since that first day when his uncle had sent for him life had been so hard. He was fine moving cargo to and from ships, sure he smelled of fish but it was safe and constant. He would move cargo from sunrise to mid-afternoon then he would go to the twin’s inn and he would eat a fine and free meal. He would relax and talk with all the newcomers that came in and out of Dragonsmouth. He would sometimes drink, when he had no work the next day and he would play games with the guests. He would end the night by going up to the master suite that was his and Amarella’s and he would sleep on the finest bed in Dragonsmouth. Life was safe.

Leomourn stopped falling he felt a pressure about his ankle. He looked up and say Griff Byron’s left hand holding his boot. Griff was smiling. Leomourn then thought of all the fun and adventure he had had. All the new people, magic! He thought of the loot! Now he remembered life at the docks being boring and monotonous. He didn’t want to move another tuna the size of a horse again. He was fine fighting monsters that he had heard about as a boy, almost dying at every turn. He was happy to be with the twins and the elf. He felt weird thinking it but he was happy to be hanging on to life by a thread, with Delgen. Leomourn never had friends as a kid, never had friends at the docks. He would just move crates and then go home. Now he had friends, a family that not only fought alongside each other to reach a common goal, but because they cared. Life was fun.

Griff fired a shot from his gonne, it connected with the giant’s thigh causing the giant to founder in his flight. Griff returned the hand cannon to it’s place and in the short window of opportunity he grabbed Leomourn’s other leg and pulled the archer and dwarf onboard.

“What were you two doing?” Griff said, and ran back to the wheel pulling his sword out of the wheel, which he had jammed through the wheel and into the deck.

Leomourn looked down at the hammer in his hand and then to Delgen, they were still in heaps after being pulled onto the ship. A tear crawled out of his eye, to his chagrin. He clapped a hard palm on Delgen’s shoulder.

“What!? Get up and kill the guy!” Delgen said. Leomourn smiled and stood up. He widened his stance and threw the hammer. A fine throw. Delgen smiled but made sure no one saw, as he gathered himself up and smoothed out his clothes.

“Right, just a few more fathoms more and I can activate the T.M.P. safely. Keep him at bay, try to push him back.” Griff said looking back. He took a long-arm from his back and tossed it to the dwarf.

The hammer returned to Leomourn after it had landed flush against the giant’s cheek. He readied the hammer again but the giant had advanced once again and this time closer. The giant then took a high arcing swing with two hands over his head and came down hard upon Leomourn.

Leomourn jumped back and almost fell, the weight of the hammer helped him regain his balance, not dexterously but accidentally. Delgen had dropped to one knee, after putting on some silver lined spectacles, and was lining a shot. Leomourn ran forward and pressed a hard foot into Delgen’s shoulder and jumped onto the spear that was momentarily stuck in the deck of the ship, it’s magic slowly turning the oak into dust and petrified wood. The kick to Delgen’s shoulder sent the shot wildly and missed the giant completely.

“Gahh!” The dwarf screamed and tossed the rifle to the deck, it slid away. He stood with one hand on his hip and watched what the archer thought he was doing.

Leomourn ran up the shaft of the spear and took a slight leap after jumping over the fists of the giant. He took the hammer high into the air and smashed the giant in the face. The giant screamed and with a grimace ripped the spear from the ship. Leomourn put his feet into the giant’s chest and leaped back to the ship, crashing into a heap on the deck that was slowly falling ill with age.

“I think you only made him mad.” Delgen said, slowly putting his spectacles away in their secret spot. They looked up at the giant, his face slowly melting and scabbing.

“What does this hammer do?” Leomourn said, looking down at the weapon in his hands and then threw it once again.

“It is dwarf-made, so…many things. Mainly it is meant to kill giants.” Delgen said.

“Oh. Thanks.” Leomourn said. Darella and Amalyn ran to their sides, their riggings having been tightly bound.

“Oh you thought to help?” Leomourn said. Darella rolled her eyes.

“Now together!” Delgen said, seeing the giant approach once again. Leomourn threw the hammer, Delgen unleashed divine magics, Darella tossed her shadow dagger and Amalyn unleashed a maelstrom of fiery pain upon the giant. All this pushed their foe further back until he took one more thrust and rushed once again. Leomourn dropped the hammer and jumped on the the railing of the ship and balanced their precariously. He pointed his left fist to the giant and mumbled something and a gigantic white ram half the size of Fafnir himself exploded from Leomourn’s bracer and knocked the giant even further.

They then they felt a lurch, heard the sound of wood creaking and the sound an ancient titan groan deep from within the heart of the ship. There was a loud popping noise and then a forcefully explosion that emanated from the ship and sent the giant flailing back and then out of time. Reality was ripping and they swore they could see other worlds like glimpses through a glass and slowly the world was normal again.

“Well. Took you long enough.” Leomourn said smirking at Griff.

Griff turned round and charged the smirking archer. A palm clapped against Leomourn’s throat collapsing his windpipe, and a foot kicked his feet from under him. Hair flying, the archer fell to the deck of the ship, leaving the smirk in the air. Griff was upon him a knee in his chest and a dagger to his throat.

“You could have cost us our lives! Or worse my ship! Look at her! Who was that! How does he know chronomagic and why is he after you!” Griff screamed. Amalyn, Darella and the now present Amarella put blades to Byron’s back and screamed in protest and threat.

“I wouldn’t if I were you.” Griff straightening and revealing a grenado he held close to his chest the fuse burning sending sparks out into the air, some falling on Leomourns gasping face leaving black specks upon the alabaster flesh. They all stepped back.

There was a weird sound from somewhere else on the ship and then the device on Griff’s grenado hand made a small mechanical sound.

“Oh, pardon me.” Byron said putting the grenado in Leomourns trembling hands and ran from the stunned group.

“I apologize, I lost my temper.” Griff said as he disappeared below. Leomourn was visibly shaken and had no idea what to do with the burning bomb he held now and could not speak to ask for suggestions. Amalyn ran to him and grabbed it up and ran to the edge of the ailing ship and threw it overboard, a few seconds later a thunder clap was head as the grenado discharged. Amalyn sat their with her hands on the ship, patting clearly shaken. Delgen walked up and put his hand on hers.

“I would have just pulled out the fuse.” He said and walked away.

“One Fafnir, frost giant is reported to have ripped the minute hand from the Cosmic Clock. The transgressions was done under-veil and was thus unseen and could not have been prevented. His whereabouts are unknown, wielding the power of the Cosmic Clock his location and threat level could be infinite. A reward shall be granted to the Fixer who locates and defeats this brigand and double if he returns the Hand. It is unknown what the consequences will be now that there is no minute hand governing time, already we see fluctuations. This is of great import and must be taken seriously, any fixer on a non-urgent mission devote time to his case upon your convenience or sooner.” Griff read from what he called his, Lettre of Marque, which he produced from a small thing built into his ship, that looked not unlike a glass chest. he explained that this device was used to send items, like weapons, money, sometimes food or letters through time.

“Fafnir.” Leomourn let the name drip from his tongue as if was a poison.

“Well, I hope you have a summer home in Felden because I won’t be Zeitspringing anytime soon. The T.M.P. fried the engine and it will take about a week for it to be ready for travel, not to mention the damages to the hull and the deck she suffered from your friend.” Griff said, looking up from the letter he had began to write at his desk in the small dark office room before the captain’s quarters.

“He’s not my friend, he stole my mother. He drove my father mad. My father swam the icy Sea of Woes to find her! He wasted his life away, bent on finding her and I, it ate at his soul. He was driven to sin and worse. He enslaved to find us!” Leomourn growled.

“Okay! I’m sorry. I didn’t know, but why is he after you now? You seemed to not know who he was, have you never seen him before?” Griff asked.

“Only once, many years ago, when…” Leomourn trailed off.

“Why is he after you if he has your mother.” Griff said, the others looked to Leomourn too in confusion.

“I don’t know…wait…oh no. I wrote in that book that she be returned to my father.” Leomourn said palming his face.

“Who? Your mother?” Byron asked. Amarella held Leomourn.

“So what was the T.M.Z. that you so badly wanted to activate, don’t get me wrong it worked wonders, but it has killed your boat.” Delgen said, pulling a chair up to the desk peering discreetly at the letter Byron was penning.

“Temporal Magnetic Pulse. It creates a forcefully expulsion centering on the hull of the ship outwards. Banishing any thing within the area from this time and into the Time Sea. Fafnir could be anywhere and any time. Using the T.M.P. drains the power from the engine. The engine runs on infinite power but it takes time to recharge, the T.M.P. is a last resort and you better help it works and you catch the foe in the area of effect because it leaves you helpless for about a week. Luckily we can sail on the winds still.” Byron said folding the letter, he poured wax and pressed down on it with a ring. Leaving a winged sword sealing the note. He stood up and put the parchment into the glass chest that was half-built into the wall and closed the lid.

Delgen watched as the letter disappeared without a sound.

“I want to be a Time Fixer.” Delgen said.

They after sailing the desert for a number of days finally set their eyes upon Felden once again. It was much like they had left it save for the fact that water was slowly crawling the waterways and the lake in which Felden was an island was slowly filling with blue ink once again. People were bustling about and free, no Surekh to oppress them. The city was at the infantile stages of flourishing. Griff moved the ship to the one man in town who was a boatwright, he had lost his job during the Dry ages…no water, no boats. Byron said he would meet them here in a week and a half for their next journey but for now they could go about and hopefully find coin to help with repairs, though on the way Delgen had used what magics he knew about mending, but the damages were too far and serious. Darella had tried to swing a hammer to fix the deck as well but to no avail.

“May your god’s shine upon you.” Griff said, grasping Leomourn and Delgen by the forearms and kissing the ladies’ fingers.

“Hey! Where is Glinda?” Leomourn said as they walked by the post where they had met their comrade.

“I don’t know. I thought she was with you.” Delgen said to the twins. They both shook their heads in opposition.

“I guess she never walked through the portal, with us. She wanted to make sure the book never left the Temple.” Amalyn said.

“Was there an other way out?” Leomourn said.

“Let’s just hope.” Delgen said, they walked to the nearest inn following the dwarf.

“Word on the street is that there have been some murders in the last few nights, the people think the Watchmen are not doing their job. Some say it is caused by the eclipse. Also they took down the water bar.” Darella said after joining the table, she had done her rogueish rounds as they drink and ate.

“I wrote his death in the book…” Delgen whispered after a gasping sound and after he grasped his chest. He looked down reflectively.

“What?” Leomourn asked after throwing back horn of elven ale. The dwarf ignored the inquiry, and the rest of the night was somber if not silent.

A stout dwarf approached their table. He was a fist taller than Delgen, perhaps younger but it is hard to tell with the mountain race. He had salt and pepper coloured hair. He had put his coat on the lower rack by the door. He walked with meaning with a militaristic air about him. There was a belt of many things hanging from his waist, including many daggers and pouches. His boots made loud metal clanks as he stepped, to announce his presence and maybe to show that he didn’t care who noticed but wanted to be noticed.

“Oh no…” Leomourn said, hiding behind the horn as if to lead the dwarf to another table.

The dwarf produced a purse from his belt and tossed it on the table. Leomourn came out from hiding and slowly pinched the bag and pulled it by his plate of pork.

“I am Inquisitor Drexel Ironshaft. I noticed you lot when you came through town not too long ago. You left Felden last Lykosdai. The next day we found a dead body in the middle of town, so I know it wasn’t you. This body was the first of nine murders that has happened over the last few days. There was one every night, for the last ten nights. I trust you lot have nothing to do with this since I saw you walk out of town myself.” Drexel said. Delgen had not even looked up from his somber trance.

“The harsh nights have ceased now that the ground is wet again with lifeblood. Though with this murderer out and about, I have enforced a city-wide curfew, to protect the citizens of Felden. We have a few of my Watchmen hidden throughout the city keeping an eye on the town. Thus far to no avail. We know not when and where to keep are keenest view, the murders have been completely random. As I had said before there has been nine murders. The first one found Selendai, that night was silent and there was no body found the next day. Which lead me and my men to believe it was just a murder in the heat of the moment, the killer to afraid to move the body or take anything. Then Syggsdai evening there was another murder and there has been one every night since then. The reason I have told you all this is the fact that I saw you with my own to eyes leads me to believe you do not have anything to do with these killings, and I would like to have more eyes on this case. I have a reward in gold to tempt you if that is what you wish, but I have gathered that you lot are an experienced group and might serve as a seasoned set of eyes and ears that may offer an objective view that my tunneled eyes from the inside may be lacking. If you agree I shall meet you at the Morgue; Abydos, the Empiric will be there keeping the bodies. Horus his assistant will see you in.” Drexel said.

“We’ll do it!” Leomourn said after feeling the weight of the purse.

“Very good.” Drexel turned and walked out. Leomourn opened the bag of coins and poured it on to the table. Leomourn was anticipating coin after coin to fall to the table but instead a few handfuls of dried leaves fell and settled on the table.

“Smart guy.” Darella said. Leomourn protested, crossed his arms and settled hard in his seat.

“Here.” For the first time in about half the night Delgen had spoken, as he slammed the horn that Heimdall had wielded, into Leomourns gut.

“What is this for? I was joking.” Leomourn said as he held the horn.

“It’s yours.” Delgen said and removed himself from the table and walked out.

“What’s his problem?” Leomourn asked.

They met back up with Delgen on the path to the Morgue, but no one uttered a word.

They opened the door to the dark building and were greeted by Horus, who lead them downstairs. The air and humidity got colder and wetter as they descended. They got pretty deep and came to a large room lit by candle fire. They were lead to the other end where there are nine gurneys. There is was queer figure pacing the beds.

Doctor Abydos wore a beak doctor costume. A protective suit consisting of a heavy fabric overcoat that was waxed, a mask of glassed eye openings and a cone shaped like a beak to hold scented substances. Some of the scented materials were amber, balm-mint leaves, camphor, cloves, laudanum, myrrh, rose petals, and storax. He held a wooden cane pointer, that which he used to examine the patient without touching. He paced with a clipboard and a quill, sometimes poking at the cadavers upon their cold metal beds. Even though he allows the clerics to cast Gentle repose upon the corpses, he attributes the slow deterioration to the cold temp and his own alchemical concoctions he adds has boiling and constantly dripping and fuming.

“I am happy you came. As you can see there are nine victims all of their causes of death differ, some of the victims have had body parts removed. Which were all found next to the body the day they were found. Five of the bodies all have a long cut from wrist to wrist. Feel free to examine them as you will.” Drexel said and stepped back to listen, after silently entering the room.

They all move closer and look at the bodies. Leomourn shrugged.

“How about you humour us to stimulate our senses. We have just come from a taxing trip into the desert and our observations skills have been burnt and dried by the heat and sun, and out deduction is dormant.” Delgen said.

“Very well, Doktor.” Drexel motioned.

“Yes…This specimen seemed to be a middle aged human male, average height, above average weight. He was suffering from androgenic alopecia, dyspnea and bromhidrosis. There is a laceration from wrist to wrist rupturing the ulnar artery.” Abydos said after he approached the first body, a middle aged man clothed in a fine red silk shirt, black leather pants, a dragonskin belt, and the finest owlbear cloak that gold could buy. Delgen looked longingly at the cloak. Around his neck he wore a large golden necklace, he had silver and mithral ring, basilisk-hide boots and displacer beast coin purse. There was a cut from wrist to wrist and there was a large cut in the abdomen.

“What does that mean in common tongue and can we touch the body?” Darella said leaning in.

“Yes feel free.” Drexel said putting his hand up preventing Doktor Abydos from protesting.

Darella poked and prodded. Leomourn joined finding first the amount of coin in the man’s purse, Drexel said that they had already found that out and that it was for now evidence.

“He has splinters under his fingernails.” Darella said.

“Very astute. Something has slipped mine eye. Most likely a defensive wound…but wood?” Drexel said, visibly excited that there were things this group could find that he had not…maybe they would be of use.

“His face is stained it seems, and his hair is sticky.” Leomourn said, he put his finger to his tongue.

“His hair tastes sweet. How did this man die?” Leomourn asked. Looking at the doctor.

“Cause of death was asphyxia which lead to cerebral hypoxia and myocardial infarction. His stomach was removed…which was filled with bolus.” Abydos said, reading his notes.

“He drowned.” Drexel said.

“In wine.” Leomourn added.

“He had a note stuffed deep in his pocket.” Darella said.

“What does it say?” Drexel asked, clearly having not seen the note before.

All things do help the unhappy man to fall.” Darella read, she shrugged and handed the slip of paper to Drexel.

“He was found face up in front of the Temple of Heironeous. He was identified by the locals as one Viktor Edler Von Strumm. A vassal who held seisn of a large farming plantation at the edge of Felden county. Seems he came into riches at a young age and has been wallowing in it for quite some time. It seems he’s never worked a day in his life. He doesn’t seem to have any living family members, the only lead we have is that his Superior is one Lord Romulus. Romulus is not in town right now he is in Icedell, he deals mainly there but his inferiors are in town, if you think you could get something valuable from interrogating them.” Drexel said as he walked to a wall and added the note to a symbol on the wall. He had a whole system of images and words on the wall, some connected by a red thread and others a blue thread.

“We might after we learn more about the bodies.” Delgen added, and walked to the next body and stood waiting for Doktor Abydos to speak.

“This specimen seemed to be a male human of above average height and weight. He seemed to be healthy no signs of disease or plague. There is likewise a laceration from wrist to wrist.” Abydos said.

“Cause of death?” Delgen asked.

“Cause of death was asphyxiation. Heart was removed, the incisions were very deft.” Doktor Abydos points at the heart in a bowl beside the gurney.

This man was tall and slender with a birdlike face and hooked nose. He wore simple silk clothes, a belt bag bursting with scrolls, simple but high quality boots. There was a cut from wrist to wrist and there was a large cut on the left side of his breast.

“There are scratches and bruising on his neck.” Delgen said, without moving or altering his stance of arms clasped behind his back. Drexel smiled a broad smile.

“There is something in his throat.” Leomourn said, diving his hand deep into the corpse’s mouth. Doktor Abydos muttered something about hemostatic clamps but all too late, as Leomourn pulled a large golden coin from the dead man’s mouth.

“There is a note in his shirt too.” Darella said.

“And this one reads? Is it in the same hand?” Drexel asked, excited.

A politician is the devil’s quilted anvil; He fashions all sins on him, and the blows are never heard.” Darella said and tossed the note in the air, Drexel grabbed it as it fell through the air like a feather.

“He was found face down in the streets, his hand teathered to a large rock by a leather cord. The local merchants identified him as one Naveen Tareeq, a merchant who climbed the rungs of Noblehood. He quickly rose to the top of the circles of the Nobles becoming one of the richest in Felden. There were many items in his pockets ranging from coins from around the world, to trinkets and statuettes. He had glasspieces and ivories and bones. There was a holy symbol of Pelor next to him…though it was broken to pieces. We asked the local temple if they knew this man, and they found that he was a clergyman of Icedell. It is odd that he was not in clerical vestments. I think since you are a man of the cloth you might be able to find out more about this man at the Temple of Pelor. It seemed the aim of the murder was to focus on killing wealthy noblemen, I have heard that a cut from wrist to wrist is a threat among merchants or nobles, it represents a bad deal that has gone hand over hand or letting one hand know what the other has done.” Drexel said as his eyes glassed while he recalled his knowledge of the body.

“There is a small word cut into his chest.” Darella said, pointing to what looked little more than a scratch perpendicular to the cut used to remove the heart. Doktor Abydos moved in with a magnifying lens.

“Avaritia.” Abydos read.

“Make note of it!” Drexel said looking over the doctor’s shoulder, then ran to the wall and wrote the word under another symbol on the wall.

“Oh my!” Amarella said from a few feet over. She had just noticed that the third body was very badly burnt, mostly blackened like a suckling on a spit.

A slender man lay on the gurney not really much to see past the burnt flesh and clothes tattered and melted to the body. The only thing that was clear was the elaborate golden codpiece that was shining very brightly due to the polishing nature of the flame.

“Lemmie guess, cause of death…fire?” Leomourn asked as he stepped over.

“This specimen was a male human of average height and under average weight due to substance usage and malnutrition. There are light scarring found all about the body and there are piercings through both mammary papillae. A laceration from wrist to wrist. Cause of death was hyperthermia, perfusion, hemorrhaging and thermal decomposition. His genitals were removed, also which were pierced.” Abydos read poking the body with his rod and then pointing at the bowl of unburnt genitals that filled a silver bowl on the side table.

“He smells familiar.” Leomourn said.

“Of human cooking?” Delgen said, smiling at Drexel. The joke was to the room, if Drexel found it amusing he hid his reaction and approval.

“Of lantern oil…glass!” Leomourn said after fetching a piece of broken glass from the dead man’s hair.

“He was found face down in the streets still smoldering. Luckily he was identified by the golden codpiece which was unharmed in the fire. The lovely wenches at The Honey Pot identified this vic as one Roderigo Castille. He runs the place. He manages the place…and from the sound of it he is one of his own clients. He ran the place and ran the women, they also informed me that he had a very intimate relationship with sannish, baccaran and devilweed. It is hard to get anything out of the girls from The Honey Pot without dropping coin, but if you guys feel lucky I would go there and ask around. This guy is not a nobleman like the first three, but he was drowning in gold and quim. He doesn’t seem to fit the M.O. of the murderer, which puzzles me. Good luck finding a little note from our murderer on this one." Drexel said and just as he had finished saying so, Amalyn reached into the bowl of genitals and pulled from the disembodied pudenda a small rolled note; steadying the mess with her other hand, that had been tucked away in the prepuce of the dead man’s copulatory organ.

Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust, like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.” Amalyn said and handed the note to Drexel as if it was a poisonous insect.

“What do all of these silly notes mean?” Delgen asked rhetorically.

“You say this man was a frequent of the brothels?” Amalyn asked.

“Yes, he owned the Honey Pot and was one of it’s clients.” Drexel said.

“Lust…” Amalyn whispered, with a finger on her lips.

“Excuse me?” Drexel inquired.

“This one was guilty of Lust. One of the Seven Sins.” Amalyn said.

“What?” Drexel asked.

“No, she may be on to something.” Delgen said stepping to the others.

“He was burned alive, as in life he let the fires of passion burn his soul.” Darella said, pointing gently at the seared corpse.

“What if they were all killed in a manner befitting to their greatest sin?” Amalyn looked at the dwarf.

“Well, that seems…I guess. Perhaps…Well I never…” The dwarf said, alternating between covering his mouth and displaying an open palm in the air. Perhaps more in shock and awe at the astute postulation of the elf, than the act itself.

“Let us examine all the bodies before jumping to any hypotheses.” Amarella said.

“Luxuria.” Darella said, pointing to the dead man’s chest. With the aid of torch light and pulling a blackened fold of flesh away, there could be seen the word carved in the man’s skin. Darella ran to the first body and ripped open the shirt that had been stained purple around the collar.

“Gula?” Darella said, finger on the word.

“Who is this strange man who kills men at night? He’s is right under my nose…is he toying with me! My town!” Drexel said punching a fist into the gurney.

“Steady, friend. We shall find this man.” Delgen said, moving to the next gurney.

An ancient looking elf lay there naked but his undergarment. There was brusing and dents all over the body the marks being alternately single then double, implying great pressure from a metal chain much like the one laying on the table by the bowl with a bloody organ sitting in it. Amalyn whimpered after casting a gaze upon the old elf.

“This specimen was a male elf of some two centuries of age. Average height underweight, unhealthy for his age. Apoptosis caused by atrophic development can be found throughout the body, perhaps even cachexia. It can be assumed that this specimen suffered from asthenia. According to the amount of blood found in the cadaver even after the laceration across the pectoralis major implies that the victim might have had anemia in life.”

“Where did you find this guy?” Leomourn said pointing at Abydos.

“So how did this one die? Was it the chain?” Amarella asked.

“Cause of death can be suggested that pressure caused by constriction caused a rise in the pressure in the victim’s body cavity greater than the heart could counter, resulting in immediate cardiac arrest. This victim’s spleen was removed.” Abydos read from his clipboard.

“Found it! Acedia!” Leomourn said after rushing to the body and searching for the little carved word on the body.

Heaven fashioned us of nothing; and we strive to bring ourselves to nothing.” Darella said reading the note she found tied into the old elf’s silver hair.

“This old guy was found face down in the streets wrapped in chains, so tight the old guy couldn’t have even wiggled his toes. Some of the older citizens of Felden gasped and called this one Beltin, Beltin Magesblood. They seemed to be more amazed to see him at all then to see him dead. He hasn’t been in town for a long while, said to have stayed in his farmhouse on the outskirts of town according to most. There was an old crone that told me something about this man and how his wife and child were taken from him long ago, if you’re interested you can go ask her yourself.” Drexel asked, taking the note from Darella and putting it along with the word on the wall.

“One last one.” Delgen said, sounding more relieved than anything.

The body of a fit man lay on the gurney. His chest and arms a collection of knotted muscles and sinewy lines glistened in the faint candle light. His head bore shortly trimmed dark hair and a well trimmed beard. He looked stern and his forehead had wrinkles that seemed to have come from constant furrowing of the brow. There were two predominating things about this cadaver. Firstly there were bruising and fresh cuts all over the body and secondly, both of the hands were removed and placed in the bowl beside the bed.

“Oh, gross.” Amalyn said. Abydos stepped forward.

“This specimen was a male human most physically fit of all. Perhaps mid thirties, increased muscle structure in arms back and abdomen with phenomenal mass mainly found in the triceps which imply a repetitive downwards motion. Many fractures were found in the fifth metacarpal, phalanx and scaphoid. There were what seem scars from what seem to be self-inflicted wounds all over the specimen’s body, as with the others there is a laceration from hand to hand.” He said pointing with the rod.

“A fighter? Is there an arena here?” Amarella asked.

“No, none. He was a slave owner.” Drexel said.

“Cause of death: desanguination due to haemorrhaging. Abrasions, excoriations, haemotomas, incisions and contusions populate the whole surface of the specimen. Both hands were removed cleanly. The radius and ulna precisely separated from the carpus with out even damaging bone.” Abydos said with a tone sounding almost like admiration.

“This one was found face down in the streets in a pool of his own blood. He looks to be badly beaten. His wife was one of the on-lookers as word fell that there was another murder, she said he never came home that night and she was anxious…though she did not even feign sorrow or even show a sign of mourning. I also recall she had a blackened eye. She was the one who identified him as Deidrick Mulson. I would ask her more about this one, she is one Marlena Mulson.” Drexel said.

Men often are valued high, when they are most wretched.” Leomourn read after he found the letter on the man’s body, quickly handing it off to Drexel not caring for the assumed hidden meaning of its presence.

“Ira.” Darella said reading the fifth and last word.

“So, five men killed five different ways all with a word carved in their flesh and with five little notes placed on their person.” Amarella said.

“So if the murderer was to have killed them in manners according to their sin…” Darella said.

“The great big fat one-” Amalyn said.

“Von Strumm.” Drexel said.

“Must have been guilty of gluttony.” The elf said.

“And he was drowned in wine.” Leomourn added, the elf nodded.

“The stomach removed…perhaps thought to have been the source of the sin or temptation.” Abydos added from behind the noisome masque.

“What of Naveen?” Drexel asked.

“He choked on the coin.” Leomourn added looking off in the distance.

“Greed.” Amalyn said.

“Sometimes the heart yearns for more than logic dictates.” Delgen said poignantly, tipping the silver bowl containing a human heart.

“We know the burned man died for lust.” Leomourn said.

“Obviously his means of implementing his sin were removed.” Darella said, not even looking in the bowl of blackened genitals.

“But what of this little old one, who would ever want to kill him and what sin could he possibly have committed?” Amalyn almost in tears.

“Chains…Sloth.” Delgen said.

“He was enslaved by the shackles of apathy, therefore the physical chains took his final breath.” Leomourn said, eyes all turned upon him. He shrugged, Amalyn glared at him.

“This one was guilty of Wrath then.” Amarella said.

“Well how was he killed?” Leomourn asked.

“Desanguination due to haemorrhaging. The abrasions, excoriations, haemotomas, incisions and contusions may lend to the idea of being dropped down a cliff or into a ravine filled with sharp rocks and blunt edges. The dirt and small debris evident in some abrasions support this idea.” Abydos added.

“He was dropped off the side of the island, surely it would be filled with rough edges in this drought.” Drexel said, adding many notes to his wall of investigation.

“So if we have five murders, five sins…that leaves-” Darella said.

“Two more murders. Envy and-” Amalyn started.

“Pride.” Delgen muttered almost imperceptibly.

“Well, my friends; you have certainly helped me immensely. I shall offer you payment of one thousand gold coins right now just for the help you have provided me just then. It is up to you if you will to walk away now, but I will also welcome your further aid.” Drexel said from the wall as he completed the words and notes, pulling a purse of gold from his belt and handing it to Amarella.

“Is it real gold this time?” Leomourn asked with a grimace of untrust.

“Yes, I’m afraid it is real this time and I hope you can forgive me for deceiving you earlier, I had to ensure your interest without loosing funding.” Drexel said.

“Now if you are to help me, I would suggest you to gather information before night fall, for it the murderer acts upon pattern there will be one more citizen of Felden to fall tonight.” Drexel said.

“What about those four?” Amarella asked.

“These four have all received similar lacerations running the length of the mandible; resulting in trauma to the sterno hyoideus muscle, trachea, the sterno-cleidomastoideus muscle and the external jugular vein.” Abydos said flipping a page on the clipboard.

“We put these four over here because though they were murdered during the same time period, I have reason to believe they are either done by a second killer, a copycat, or just random killings that have coincidently happened. Firstly they were all killed cleanly with no elaborate display of torture or the like. Also there are no signs of self-defense or struggle with these four. The second more interesting thing is that they are all clerics of Hieroneous. They were all found face up or on their side.” Drexel said. Darella searched all the bodies and could find no hidden lexeme or little written note to be found on any of the bodies.

“We have to act now, before any more are killed in the night!” Delgen said driven by some unknown clout.

“I shall stay here and see if I can figure anything out about these words or notes.” Drexel said as they exited into the city.

The group went out into the city and followed directions to the five leads that Drexel had given them. They walked with a nervous eye to the darker parts of the streets, as if the murderer had already found out about them and was tailing them.

“Fruben Goldtruffle. He works for Von Strumm and Romulus.” Darella read as she lead them to a large villa in the richer part of Felden. She knocked on the door. A nervous and obviously annoyed balding man answered the door and led them in. He lead them into a large room with display cases and showed them to a silver platter that had a decanter of Gnome wine and six pewter goblets. Delgen eyeballed a large banner that hung from the wall above the door. It was a finely crafted banner of golden background and a crimson fish.

After a very rushed and awkward conversation with Fruben they found out, Von Strumm was a vassel of his masters and his untimely death has caused a constraint upon his fiscal status. He was making more gold having a Edler Von in charge of the farming plantation, now with his death he will have to reemploy a new vassal and that will be costly. Von Strumm was supposed to come talk with the treasurer the day the body was found to discuss the terms of his seisin, because it seemed as if Von Strumm wanted to leave the plantation, Romulus wanted to convince him to stay. So it would be counterintuitive to murder him. Romulus is in Icedell where his primary villa is. He travels mainly between Icedell and Felden. Fruben had lead the conversation outside and before they had even noticed he had closed the door leaving them outside.

“So Romulus knew Von Strumm…” Leomourn said.

“Who’s next?” Delgen asked.

“High Priest Drunin Farthenbach Cleric of Pelor in Felden. Naveen’s lead.” Darella said. They walked to the temple of Pelor and had a genteel conversation with Drunin.

Drunin said that the clergy of Pelor does not require their members to take a vow of poverty and it is very common to see a follower of Pelor to live lavishly. He knew that Naveen stayed mostly in Icedell and somehow always got what he wanted. He coyishly mentioned simony, but felt bad for even thinking it. He said Naveen ascended the ranks of clergy quite fast and there there were rumors that he achieved this in less than savory ways but none could truly know. Naveen was open to other temples and often chose to aleiviate his troubles by visiting other sites of worship.

“When a temple is privately funded by a nobleman such as Romulus who’s to know what really goes on behind the walls, as long as it brings in more believers of Pelor." Everyone’s brow’s were raised.

“Faith should not be built upon a foundation of gold and coin. For when those fail the whole of the religion fails and can be corrupted.” Delgen said as he walked away from the temple, fuming.

“Delgen, I know you are a man of the cloth but I have never heard you before today mention religion.” Amarella stated.

“Religion is best kept close and personal, it is most effective that way. I only speak out when the divines are misused for petty or vile reasons. My faith has been shaken many more times than I can count but still I hold true to the All-Father’s teachings be it silently or not.” Delgen huffed.

“Unanda. Crone, from the outskirts of town.” Darella said.

She had been around for a while. She was a half-elf and was a little girl when Beltin’s wife and child were taken. She said there used to be raids in the past, barbarians would come in and take women and children. She said Beltin was devastated he locked himself away in his little hut and never came out since that day. Many thought he was starving himself feeling ashamed of not being able to prevent the tragedy, others secretly whispered of his cowardice and said if he really was torn so then he should have gone out to look for them and went at all costs to find them. Unanda visited him once and a while, she was the only one who knew he was alive this whole time. She took him food and drink as he wasted away on his bed with his wife’s scarf and his daughter’s toy clutched to his chest. She said recently a Nobleman by the name Romulus wanted to buy Beltin’s farmland, to have a second branch in Felden to double his income and have a fief in both towns. Beltin was stubborn and refused, he said Romulus could have it when he died, even though Unanda knew the price would be more than enough to move into a smaller house and possibly raise his spirits. Unanda was hopelessly in love with Beltin and was very distraught at both his stubbornness and his death.

“I guess Romulus owns the farm now.” She also mentioned that clerics would come and offer solace to Beltin often, though he would only rarely speak to anyone other than her.

“Next.” Delgen said walking away from the small hut that was Unanda’s.

“Inma. Mistress of the Honey Pot.” Darella read.

“The Honey Pot, huh. What is that a sweet shoppe or a meadery? I could go for either!” Leomourn said.

“It’s a brothel.” Darella said.

“Oh. I could go for that as well.” Leomourn said, before he could finish the statement his back was met with a crushing blow from the barbaric Amarella.

“Welcome to the Honey Pot.” The young woman said at the front of the building. She was lithe and suggestively clothed. Her mellifluent voice instantly putting Leomourn and Delgen into a slight stupor.

“Would you like a room and or companionship? We offer lads and ladies of all ages and races.” She said leaning forward on the desk exposing more of her alabaster bosom.

“We are here on official business, that has to do with the murders that have been happening here in Felden. We are to ask misses Lott to lead us to Mistress Heinous.” Darella said.

“Oh certainly, she is with a client right now but should be free shortly. You can call me Mona by the way.” She stepped from behind the desk and led the group deeper into the house of assignation. The sway of her hip summoned the two men to immediately follow her, then the others.

Inma was a halfling prostitute. She was clothed in a skin-tight leather dress and wielded a whip. She sat upon a huge silken bed and seemed to be in a rush, she revealed that she was basically in charge now and she has been waiting for this moment. She had clients waiting and said she must soon see to the machinations of a healthy and proper brothel.

“Inma?” Darella said as she opened the door.

“One and the same darling, you here for companionship? Or maybe a job opportunity. I will be happy with either, dear. You can call me Cominma.” The halfling opening the front of her corset.

“Roderigo? He was a good man. He was nice to all the girls and he could talk to anybody, he had the most charisma of anyone I have ever met. He was great with the clients, we even had some female clients that came for him, and men. Yeah he was a lad of the night, he was a great lover. He was very intuitive and was always in rapport with his partner, he was not a selfish lover. I would say that this was his only flaw…his greatest gift was his biggest flaw. I often had to cover his mistakes and take over while he was pleasing his ego. I was running this place basically. I knew I could do it, and now I just have to prove to Romulus that I can, so that he does not replace me.”

“Romulus own’s this too!” Amalyn asked.

“Romulus owns the Honey Pot or a portion rather, he takes income from it in exchange for upkeep, income and protection. Seeing that you have taken some of my time I will send my clients to other girls and move on to my next order of business, if you’ll excuse me, I will go see if there are any more hopeful girls at the Mulson Manor, it’s a shame Deidrick was killed and his wife has chosen not to continue in her husband’s trade, he was the source of our best girls.” Cominma said.

“You buy your girls from—” Darella was to ask.

“We can take you there! We are strong!” Leomourn said, puffing out his chest. Inma smiled and linked her arm into the archer’s quivering arm and put her arm around the dwarf’s neck. They walked out of the Honey Pot and to Marlena Mulson’s villa. Once there Marlena told Inma to go down to their ludus and examine the girls.

She was at home taking care of her six kids and bustling about with her slaves trying to figure out how to maintain the legacy of slaves her husband left her with. All the kids and Marlena had bruises and flinched with the slightest movements of the hand. Marlena had a host of merchants and nobles waiting in her common room with aspirations of purchasing one or many of the myriad of slaves that Marlena was more than willing to rid her villa of. She will turn a huge profit, enough to feed her children and herself for years to come. She admitted that her husband had a temper and often beat her, though she says she may have deserved it. She said he hit the kids, slaves and often walls and anything else. She admitted that he would even inflict pain to himself sometimes and had attempted to commit suicide a few times throughout their marriage.

She said other than gladiators the most expensive slaves her husband dealt with were prostitutes. He would feed and treat fit males and attractive females the best, for they were the best assets he would say. He sold mostly to The Honey Pot if not the gladiatorial arena Lord Romulus ran.

She said in his beginning years she knew that to start up the business her husband was driven to pay savages to attack villages to gain slaves. He stopped the day they accidently attacked his own city. From them on he strictly purchased from other slave-merchants.

Deidrick went to the temple to get over the demons of his past. He was beaten as a child, and thus coped by being a control-freak.

They left the villa in more of a somber mood than they had entered. Cominma did not join them in their exit, much to Leomourn and Delgen’s disappointment.

“So what have we learned? Other than all roads lead to Romulus.” Delgen asked.

“Romulus owned the farm Von Strumm was a vassal for, and Von Strumm did not want to work for him anymore. Romulus was to talk him into staying, killing him would have been detrimental, but it could have been out of anger? Romulus funded Naveen’s advancement in the church and in turn received special treatment and coin. Romulus wanted Beltin’s property…that is one real motive to kill, though the man was to die in a few years no doubt and with the drought there was no real need to haste. Romulus funded the Honey pot and a gladiatorial arena and it could be assumed that he invested in the Mulson’s Slave house.” Darella said.

“This man has his finger’s in all the pies.” Delgen said.

“Though it seems that he would have no real reason to kill any of them. It puts more of a strain on all of his business acquisitions save for maybe Beltin’s farm and maybe the Honeypot. Perhaps he is being framed?” Darella said.

“We should report to Drexel and call it a night.” Delgen said.

“No, the veil of night has fallen and we should tarry no longer. Let us split up and watch the streets to see if we can catch the killer in the act.” Amarella said, sympathy fueling her ire.

“Never split the party.” Delgen said.

“She’s got a point, with our eyes and the Watchmen, we can cover more ground and we know his style. I travel by myself all the time.” Darella said.

“Fine, but Leomourn you travel with me…and go all wolfy and see if you can pick up a scent.” Delgen said, loosening the tie on his hammer.

Delgen walked the cold streets of Felden with a silent wolf by his side. The light of the moon reflected majestically off the ice covered hairs of the white wolf that sniffed at the ground, following some invisible path. Delgen reveled in the first silence since…he could remember. He needed time to reflect and think about things. Time to think about what has happened and what he has done. He was happy in this moment of aimlessness, for the first time in a long time there was no drive or mission. He would be happy to walk the streets of Felden all night…all week.

“I smell it!” The wolf said, looking up. A puzzled look painted Delgen’s face, before questions could be asked the great white wolf ran forward in the manner dogs do when they are upon a stick, their most persistent quarry.

Leomourn ran the streets of Felden, feeling quite at home in last of the desert chill that covered the city like an icy blanket. He had been so excited when finding the scent he had subconsciously picked up on in the dark morgue. He was so happy he forgot to warn the others and had forgotten to wait for Delgen. He ran forward and Delgen’s scent was lost to the wind, but soon he smelled Delgen’s scent ahead of him. He was excited once again and his tail wagged, but then was confused. How could he have left Delgen far behind but then be coming upon Delgen again. Before he could stop to look back and ponder his eyes fell upon the answer to that question.

There was a body on the ground with a giant boulder sitting atop it’s back. Leomourn thought that with his wolf ears he had heard screaming and the sounds of suffering just a few moments back but the body was alone. He approached it. When he got close enough he noticed that the body was that of a dwarf, and that dwarf was Delgen.

Leomourn howled into the night. He looked at his dead friend under the rock. Delgen looked peaceful, despite the huge rock on his back. At once Leomourn was a man again, a sad one. Leomourn tried to push the rock off his friend, but he was not strong enough he wished Amarella could be here, she was the strong one. Delgen just laid there, he looked different, but Leomourn could not place why, not in this light.

“What have you found?” A voice said from behind Leomourn, this startled him and he looked back. He was even more confused when he saw that Delgen was the owner of this voice in the night. Leomourn looked to Delgen who was standing a few feet away and then to the Delgen under the rock.

“What?” Leomourn said pointing to both Delgens.

“What? Oh.” Delgen said as he stepped forward and looked at the body under the rock. The girls arrived at this time after seeing the magically symbol Delgen had shown in the sky that was to prompt regrouping.

“Quickly get that rock off of me!” Delgen said to Amarella, frozen in place.

Amarella with the help of Leomourn remove the stone, after they put it down there was a moment of silence. Then the dead body seemingly was revived and started to gasp for air and writhed around screaming to an unknown attacker and then looked confused.

Young Delgen gets up and complains about his clothing being ruined. He looked up at the odd assortment of viewers.

“Well if your going to kill me finish the deed.” Young Delgen said putting his arms up in mock defeat. A look of confused understanding painted everyone’s faces and a stern look from Delgen implied silence and cooperation.

“We are not to kill you.” Amalyn said.

“We saved your life.” Leomourn said coyishly.

“You did not save my life, this trinket, a very expensive trinket I might add, saved my life. Assassin’s Bane they call it.” Young Delgen said, after peeling a necklace from his neck and dropping it on the ground as if it was a piece of filth he was appalled to have to wear.

“Who killed you then?” Darella asked.

“I was attacked towards the end of the night, I was packing up the last of the Shardhammer Water Bar, and was drug into a dark room blindfolded and kept there for a while. There must have been a silence spell cast because I heard not a thing all night until after I was drug once again and was placed here prostrate.”

“Your sin has caused others to fall before you. Your hubris has allowed you to live freely and you have never felt the weight of humilty. It is a shame that you won’t live to see the fall of your house..perhaps you would have come upon the weight on your own.’ I don’t know what the prat meant, I assure you I will have my men find this fool. Then the bastard told me that he was at show me true beauty, and cast a spell. The incantation he kept saying was “Bella verus.” Young Delgen said, touching his back as he mentioned the bit about weight of humilty.

“Bella Verus? That is a rare spell that show’s the victim true beauty from all around the world, natural wonderment and even visions from beyond this earth, it is said to kill the victim from wonderment. I heard of people dying after finding ancient ruins or art work and even mountains. I am surprised that you survived." Amalyn said after trying to remember where she had heard the name of the incantation.

“More likely a hallucinogenic drug introduced by inhalation that induces hyperkulturemia which causes death.” Doktor Abydos added who had sneaked onto the scene, most likely woken by the Watchmen. Abydos had to be the first one to see the dead body of every murder that happened in the city.

“The killer must have also given you tetrodotoxin a toxin from a fish, often imported from the coastal port cities for assassinations and political crime, to make it appear as if you were dead. The question is why would he want you to survive? Did he give you a message?” Doktor Abydos asks.

There is blood on young Delgen’s chin. He said that through the darkness he saw that his assailant was interrupted in the act of seemingly trying to cut his face off but only succeeded in making a long gash from ear to chin. Old Delgen raised a brow and pulled open his tunic and peered down his chest, but made no sound or face afterwards.

“We need to tell Drexel everything, and we need sleep.” Delgen said, walking away.

“What’s his problem?” Young Delgen asked, and then walked away with members of his men who had appeared shortly after the Watchmen and Doktor Abydos.

They slept and woke a little after highsun the next day, Darella had stayed up later to give a full report to Drexel and was still the first to rise the next day.

“Let’s get some food, and not from here.” Delgen said as they all met at the bottom of the stairs of the rundown inn that Drexel had commissioned for their stay.

They walked the streets of Felden and came to the Temple District. They went to a food vendor and ordered. They sat and eat at a bench, silently. Delgen stared up to the Templo Mayor but remained silent.

On their way back a cold hand is placed around Amayln’s mouth and midsection and she is pulled from her place in the advancement and into a dark alley.

“It would be prudent for you and your friends to stop meddling in affairs that do not involve you. Drexel is a good man but he is putting his nose where it ought not be. I give you this last chance, intervene with my work not and perhaps leave town; if not, surely your death will come as justly is it will to all in this filthy city. Let the cycle of Magnum Innominandum complete itself!” And she was released on to the dirt of the alley. She ran out and joined the group of people who had been looking around for her.

“He was here! He just took me into the alley! He told us to leave him alone! He mentioned the Magnum Innominandum!” Amalyn said, gasping for air, and retold what had just transpired.

“Did he carve into your flesh?” Leomourn asked.

“No, but…” Amayln felt her body and found a crumpled paper in her pocket.

“_I know death hath ten thousand several doors for men to take their exits_.” She read from the parchment.

“We need to find out about about this Magnum Innominandum.” Delgen said and then rushed off in the direction of the Temple of Heironeous.

When approached about the Ritual called the Magnum Innominadum, the clerics muttered prayers and mentioned, words like Saligia and some manor. This is all the information they gave and walk away asking for forgiveness of Heironeous.

“Can we talk with the…head Cleric here?” Amarella asked, not knowing who was in charge in this type of situation.

“Our superior died a few nights ago as you would have heard. Cenodoxus is by default in charge now. He is the Confessor here, but he is ill with a bad case of conjunctivitis or the like and has requested to receive no visitors for the time of ailment.” The bumbling cleric said.

“Well, will you humour us upon the nature of Magnum Innominandum?” Delgen said, moving his necklace depicting the Hammer of Moradin behind his tunic.

“What you seek can only be found within the Drachen Manor. I warn you now, do not venture any further for what you seek, for you will not find what you wish. There is naught but curse and death within the Drachen Manor.

Our adventurers entered the Manor hesitantly and within a time of a few hours returned with the knowledge needed. What happened within the manor is a topic for another tale.

They left the Manor with the knowledge that many years ago a demonologist Called L’Mur Kathulos summoned a demon called Hastur to cleanse an ancient Felden of sin. The Ritual of Saligia required blood of three and two to summon the Prince of the Broken. The summoning criteria was changed to the blood of seven after the banishment of Hastur. They went back to the temple of Heironeous and sought council with Cenodoxus the Confessor.

They were escorted past the altar and were left in front of a closed door as the cleric walked away them.

They entered a room behind the altar and saw a lavishly furnished chamber filled with books. There was an old elf sitting in a chair relaxed and leaning back, bandages wrapped around his head.

“Dear sir, we come bearing inquiries pertaining the nature of such things as The Ritual of Saligia, Hastur and Magnum Innominandum.” Darella said, bowing despite the many bandages over the priest’s eyes.

“What you seek is history and of little import.” The old man said slowly.

“Humour us.” Delgen said pacing the room and turning his nose to the relics within.

“A few centuries ago a man unleashed a demon upon this town. He completed the ritual to summon ”/campaign/the-flame-of-time/wikis/hastur" class=“wiki-page-link”> Hastur. Hastur reigned terror and destruction upon the town of Felden, until three Holy Warriors fought the demon and banished Hastur from this world. One of the Warriors was my grand-father. That is the robe he wore during the battle." The old elf pointed at a ancient robe a dark green with a silver pine on the chest in a glass case that had some rips and tears with some bloodstains.

“One of the warriors died in banishing the demon, though the oldest and the youngest finished the deed. I still have the two Blades of Essentia used to banish the demon.” He pointed at an other display case.

“Tell me again, why do you seek such tales of evil?” The Confessor said.

“We have been investigating a handful of murders that have happened in the area the last few nights, have you not heard of them?” Darella asked.

“Five men murdered and one attempted murder.” Delgen little less than growled.

“A sixth? Attempted you say?” The Confessor asked, slightly intrigued.

“Yes but to the hour he still stands.” Delgen said proudly.

“Nonetheless his blood was still drank by the earth.” The Confessor said.

“Excuse me?” Delgen asked.

“The Ritual of Saligia. Superbia, Avaritia, Luxuria, Ira, Gula, Invidia, Acedia.” The Confessor said.

“The words.” Leomourn said.

“This Ritual requires the blood of seven men guilty of the Seven Sins to bring the Prince of the Broken forth into our realm.” The Confessor said.

“Well we intend to stop that.” Amarella said.

“I am sure you are, but whoever is out their with the knowledge and resources to have come this far is far too much to deal with, though I do not doubt your strength and will. You all seem to be virtuous and walked through the flames of sin and temptation unscathed.” The Confessor said.

“Yes…so can we use the Blades of Essentia?” Amarella asked, confused.

“Sure. Also I will tell you where the next murder will likely take place.” Cenodoxus said. Everyone else in the room became tense, Leomourn’s fingertips in an instant upon the feathers of an arrow.

“To summon the Prince of the Broken the blood of the Seven must fall to the ground in the ”/campaign/the-flame-of-time/wikis/the-ritual-of-saligia" class=“wiki-page-link”> symbol of Hastur. A unicursal hexagram, so the last murder must take place in the same place as the first. That just so happens to be right out side these temple walls." Cenodoxus the Confessor said.

They left the chambers and sought council with Drexel. By the fall of night they had all posted outside the walls of Temple of Heironeous.

“When will he strike?” Leomourn asked.

“Silence.” Delgen hissed.

Then in the cold desert night a slow grinding was heard and shadows were cast. Before anyone present could react, the large oaken doors of the temple crept open and out stepped the Confessor.

“I am here to offer my assistance.” Cenodoxus says slowly walking to where Drexel and Delgen stood shrouded in darkness.

“We can use any help we can get.” Drexel says though Delgen was obviously annoyed.

A few moments later as the moon hangs overhead Cenodoxus stepped near the dark red stains of the first murder and denounced:

Other sins only speak; murder shrieks out: the element of water moistens the earth, but blood flies upwards, and bedews the heavens. It was I the whole time! It is too late now, ”/campaign/the-flame-of-time/wikis/hastur" class=“wiki-page-link”> Hastur is knocking on the doors of our reality and I can hear him. With my death the cycle will be complete. There is nothing you can do now! Hastur will destroy all the sinners in this ruined town. I have been waiting for this moment for years, having to watch the filth walk the streets and hearing their sins when they come to confess. My grandfather stopped The Cleansing many years ago. Now Hastur will return and destroy all the sin in this town and Heironeous will reward my acts, despite my own sin.” Cendoxus said this as he removed the bandages on his head revealing darkened and dried bloodstained lids devoid eyes.

“I have watched and heard all the sin and it has sunk into my soul like a poison. I thus have removed the tools of my sin, Envy. If I were to live any longer I would cut my ears out of my head too, for all the poison that has seeped it’s way into my soul. As my blood spills on this earth, the cycle is complete. Despite the efforts my inferiors have made to cancel the summoning ritual Hastur shall walk this land again! Their counter-ritual may have weakened and contained Hastur, Eater of Sin but not forever, that weak spell shall only last a few days! Eldranoth said you would be here. He also said you would think you would be able to save the town. He was fond of you, and ironically I can see why.” Cenodoxus said.

Cenodoxus opened his mouth to speak once again but a dark hand clapped over his lips and he fell to the ground limp. As his body fell into a crumpled heap there stood the darkened form of Darella with a dagger made of shadowstuff.

“What? I was tired of hearing him talk.” She shrugged.

“He knows Eldranoth!” Leomourn shouted.

“Never mind that, I had to stop that Ritual before he tried to kill himself.” Darella said, but just as she said that a dark crimson liquid pulled itself out of Cenodoxus’ mouth, climbing over the dead man’s lips.

A loud thundering sound was heard in the center of town like the moaning of a titan from deep underneath the earth after the thirsting ground drank the sole drop of blood that fell from the dead Confessor’s mouth.

The party gathered their things and ran towards the sound, Delgen screaming for the guards not to disturb the body of Cenodoxus the Confessor.

To their eyes befell the scene of a hell materialized to actual form. A square of Felden had sunk some twenty-fives toises into the ground and had fallen to ruin. There were great fires and demonic corruptions to be seen within. Inky black tentacles that writhed and whippped about in the air like so many feelers gripping for prey. Undead and demons had populated the ruination that was once the houses belonging to the good people of Felden.

In the center of hellish spectacle was seen the grey corpulence of a demon, chewing on the limb of a fallen villager while raping another, barely alive. The demon did not seem to heed much other than his indulgences, not noticing the party of adventures clambering down the fallen and wet earth that divided Felden from this Hellscape.

After surveying the vision before them, the cleric noticed four cairns built of human skulls that were casting a taint about the area and granting the demons and undead the power of unhallowed ground. Delgen dispelled the cairns while the others fought with the undead villagers and demons. After defeating the undead and finding out that a number of the undead had in life been Martinets, identified by their amulets of anti-magic around their necks. Darella took two amulets and pocketed them, their enchantments canceling each other rendering them powerless and portable.

Amalyn grew more and more frustrated as she continued through the scene that befell them. Every spell she cast was in vain as there were apparently more amulets of antimagic that were clandestinely sleeping beneath the bloodied earth. She furiously spoke words of arcane summonings and her hands writhed in grotesque gestures in hopes of conjuring the elements, but to no avail.

Delgen took heed of the struggling elf and watched as she mouthed a monologue that was lost on the wind and clangor of battle and rain. The elf seemed reluctant but soon it became apparent to the miner what was happening but before he could act the mage was reaching into her robes and pulled free an amulet.

“Elf, pray don’t dare listen to that abomination within.” Delgen screamed, knowing that the amulet around Amalyn’s neck was of the very same statue that once held the daemon as prisoner. Knowing the proximity of the metal kept the full power and grasp of the foul shade subdued, keeping the elf safe he hoped she did not remove the amulet.

The elf glared perhaps at the dwarf perhaps not but she stood straight and tugged at the white-silver chain that held the shard close to her heart. The links broke with a sound that seemed to silence all but for a moment. All eyes were upon her.

Where the elf once stood was an effigy, a crude outline of the mage engulfed in the conflagration that was the daemon freed. A spiral of holocaust gathered around the wizard and then welled into the sky. A burning elf stood their with tightened fists and tongues of flame coming from her eyes.

“I told you I would have her.” Said the elf in an unfamiliar voice and timber.

“No.” Amarella breathed.

“You shall all remember the name: Adramoloch.” The elf rasped.

“We shall forget your foul name as quickly as we shall vanquish you. Don’t listen to this maumet, this is not our Amalyn.” Delgen said, holding the hammer around his neck.

The creature within the elf laughed in response and within a the time of a lightening strike was gone in a flash of red fire and a line that led away from the vista. The laughing echoed on the wind and thus Amalyn was gone.

There was a time of disbelief and confusion but the task at hand drew their attention and dulled the memory of loosing a friend as demons and corpses attacked from all fronts once more.

They defeated the Malebranche who had served as Hastur’s minion and they advanced upon the Prince of the Broken. They were quickly upon the Demon of Sin, proving to be less a fighter than a sinner. Leomourn loosed arrows. Darella used her pantalones of teleportation and was behind the Demon. She plunged first her rapier into the back of the thing and then her dagger. She used the hilts as leverage and placed the soles of her feet into the folds of the fat demon’s back and began climbing up the Prince of Sin’s back using her blades to pull her weight up the length of the Demon’s back. As the pain of her enchanted blades seared into the cursed flesh of Hastur his writhing mound of rotting and moist flesh wracked not displeasure but with laughter. Hastur’s mountain of flesh shock the rogue and his laughter loosened the blades from his back and Darella fell to the ground. Darella stood up within an instant had her blades ready to carve them deep into his gizzard as she watched him turn around.

Darella’s comrades held their fire, seeing her engaged in battle with the demon. Darella held the demon’s gaze as he turned round and laughed revealing his corpulence and the scarred filth that was his pudenda. Darella made a grimace and was about to take a step back when Hastur grasped his lower jaw with muddy hand and while laughing, dislocated it wider still. Frozen more in disgust than fear, Darella remained motionless. Hastur, faster than his girth would lead on to believe, doubled over and closed his mouth over the dark rogue’s head. With a clenching of the demon’s jaw, the two shiny blades fell to the wet ground, the muffled sound of metal on earth echoed in the night.

Time stopped for those around the scene, as Darella’s comrades watched in disbelief. The demon slowly stood straight and laughed once more in the blood-rain that fell from the silent sky. Amarella, at the second sight of her sister’s death went into a bloodrage and charged the demon. Amarella threw her shield to the ground as she advanced and her sword of light shown brighter than ever before. The pain and rage that Amarella felt when her sister died was channeled through her control over light itself. The blade she created in her fist was made not only of light but of pure rage. Amarella was upon the demon and there was naught but flashes of light and afterburns of each attack that seared the eye and ripped into the demon’s flesh. Despite her rage, Hastur pushed the barbarian away and she fell into the mud. The corpulent Demon Lord laughed as black fetid blood oozed from each wound and pooled at his fattened toes.

SALVATORE!” A voice growled. Delgen was seen holding ancient arcane hand signals and threw his hands up high into the damp night air.

A small popping noise filled the night sky and there was a small flash of green light. A figure appeared in front of the demon and it stood there switching his gaze first from the demon and then to the decapitated figure on the rainy earth.

Salvatore snarled lowly and reached slowly above his shoulder and his grip tightened around the hilt of his broken sword. In one swift motion Salvatore unsheathed his blade and spun in the air and cut the demon. Blood dripped from under the Prince of the Broken’s chin and slowly the fell beast’s head slid down the front of the now bloody chest as the creature fell limp.

Salvatore dropped his blade in the bloody mud and was upon the body of Darella sniffing and whimpering and let out a sorrowful howl, after nudging at her limp limbs with his muzzle.

Amarella had stood and walked over the body and head of the still laughing demon.

“I will be whole again just as soon as this blessing weakens.” Hastur spoke in a raspy voice.

Amarella loosened her grip and the light that was her rage faded in the night, and in darkness she took a Blade of Essentia from her hip.

“Fuck you.” She said and carved the symbol of banishment into the demon’s rotting flesh, there was a thunderclap and the beast was gone.

In the falling rain three warriors and a shield guardian breathed heavy and let go a sigh. Reminiscing upon battles with goblins and beasts and of chain demons, of a hag from the Gray Wastes, of a mage in a dragon’s body, of their defeat over the challenges of the Temple of Heroes all to culminate in the defeat and banishment of the Prince of the Broken, a demon who was being summoned to reign death and sin upon the land. So close was the land to be overrun with rape and ruin, and were it only for the selfless suicides of five brave clerics who could not stop the ritual, but could contain the Prince within that small area. Were it not for the five priest’s noble blood at each intersection of the foul symbol of summoning preventing the full liberation of Hastur, surely the tale of Rienland would have ended that fateful night.

But at a cost.

“So we can finally have a drink and relax?” Leomourn said, reluctantly after seeing Amarella’s reaction as she carried the limp and lifeless body of her twice decapitated sister.

“Not yet.” Delgen said, as he walked off. The rain still falling from the sky, only rain now, no more blood.

“What now?” Leomourn whined, wiping blood from his brow.

“Cenodoxus mentioned ”/campaigns/the-flame-of-time/characters/eldranoth" class=“wiki-content-link”>Eldranoth." Delgen said climbing the wet earth.

“Yeah.” Leomourn said.

“My sister.” Amarella said, pointedly.

“I want to know why they know each other, and why that mind flayer was here. We shall bring her back, may Moradin protect her.” Delgen said, surmounting the scale and helping the others out of the Hell-Hole.

“How will you find that out?” Leomourn said spitting mud from his mouth, after falling into the dank soil.

“Cleric.” Jabbing two thumbs into his chestplate, Delgen raised his brow.

The dwarf propped the corpse of the Confessor against the stairs of the Temple and started to chant guttural though divine words lost to all but the clerics of Moradin. Soon to the surprise of his companions the limp head of Cenodoxus straightened and opened it’s already clouded eyes, looking blankly into the eyes of the cleric. Leomourn had sat beside the corpse and mockingly put his arm around the dead man, when the spell had taken hold and animated the body; Leomourn jumped aside flailing and looked first to the animated body and then glaringly at the cleric.

“How do you know Eldranoth?” Delgen said slowly but with stern condemnation.

“Eldranoth came to me days ago. He was distraught when he came to me, I never knew one like him could feel such emotions. He was asking me questions about a man’s soul. He told me that when an Illithid is made, a man’s soul is destroyed. Mind flayers have no religion and are trained into thinking the ultimate goal is to be introduced into the Elder Brain. He revealed to me that his brothers all taught him that once introduced into the Elder Brain, not only was it the ultimate reward and honor, for you are giving up all your knowledge for the betterment of your entire race and that you advance your race one step closer to Thoon, but you also retain your individuality, kind of like a collective pool of knowledge. Eldranoth had his doubts and made a promise with his mentor and his captor that if one of them were to die before the other the survivor would ask the Elder Brain a secret question that only the other would know and if the Elder Brain could not answer correctly then it would disprove the notion that a Mind Flayer keeps his individuality after death. Appearantly his mentor was killed in a raid and Eldranoth later conducted the experiment and was so unhappy with the result that he destroyed the Elder Brain and all of the Illithids in that coven called Mahkra.” The newly animated body answered slowly and without emotion.

“Go on.” Delgen said.

“Eldranoth said he suffered from nightmares, memories of the man he once was. He came to me for the Oblivion Stone, an artifact that consumes dreams. Confessors have used these stones for a long time now. There are only a few left, but they are much needed when you constantly hear the crimes and sins of others and have no way to let out the pain. He explained to me that the man he once was was a simple fisherman. He said one of the dreams was one where this man, Langston, was a young man, his sister was violated and attacked by some men and was dying in a pool of blood on the rocky crags of a cliff that over hung the ocean, on a rainy evening. Langston made a vow to find her attackers and also to stand up for the helpless and to stand against monsters. His sister died on those rocks but not before giving Langston a locket from her neck. Leta was the force that kept Langston going, visiting her Cliffside grave every day and clutching the locket making a vow to find her killers.” The corpse of Cenodoxus continued.

“Eldranoth not only felt guilt for ruining Langston’s soul in his transformation into an Illithid, but felt guilt for Leta too, by Langston’s capture, he was never allowed the chance to complete the promise. Eldranoth asked me if there was anyway to save Langston’s soul, but I told him that it was consumed by the small worm that was Eldranoth, when he eat the man’s brain.”

“Eldranoth said that he likes you all because you have survived struggle and never gave up, and in his eyes are worthy of the eternal soul that he has been spared. He kills humans who waste away and in his eyes are not deserving of the soul. He thinks that you are the perfect foe and if he was ever to be destroyed he would feel honoured if it were by your hands or machinations. He does not see you as enemys but more as siblings in a life of struggle, as family.”

“Eldranoth has accomplished an impossible feat, to further accomplish another impossible feat. He has halted the existence of the ”/campaign/the-flame-of-time/wikis/the-Æther" class=“wiki-page-link”> Æther. He has found the source of the Æther and has disabled it. Now souls immediately disperse to another realm, with no grace period. This will make resurrection much more difficult. He has taken down the Æther because he is to become an Alhoon."

“Damn.” Delgen said pointedly.

“What? What does that mean?” Leomourn asked.

“An Alhoon is a Illithid that undergoes Lichdom. The ”/campaign/the-flame-of-time/wikis/the-Æther" class=“wiki-page-link”> Æther was placed on the continent of Rienland by some accounts by the hands of Sygg the God of the Land, others believe it was created by powerful mages to prevent Liches from being made and still some claim the Æther is far more ancient than history itself. The Æther draws a soul from the body at the time of death and holds it there for seven days, until it is allowed to go to its appropriate realm. When a lich removes his soul from his body to put it in his phylactery, the Æther would pull it up into itself and is lost in a collective consciousness like a drop of dye in an ocean of colour, causing the ritual to fail. Thus no Lich has been made on Rienland ever, until now. Eldranoth removed the Æther, and has now become an Alhoon."

“Damn.” Delgen said louder this time.

“Eldranoth said this was the only option seeing as if he were killed or if he rotted away his sentience would rot as his flesh, and he wishes to live forever since an afterlife was denied to him. I also feel that in a sense he wishes to accomplish this feat so that Langston’s soul was not lost in vain.” Delgen closed his eyes as he consumed the new information.

“Eldranoth is honorable; I pity and envy him, my sin once again. It is a shame I could not see him succeed and bring terror upon all the disgusting parasites that have and still corrupt an eternal soul that Eldranoth is so robbed of.” The corpse said and it’s eyes closed and the head fell limp, and was dead once again.

View
Sefer Yetzirah
Arcadiae vias peregrinentur

Our adventurers regained consciousness and felt all their infinite atoms slowly rebonding. As the atoms slowly became cells and then tissues the pain returned. The tissues became organs and the organs cried out as they floated through space and then attached to each other. The organs became systems and then our heros slowly became whole again. As they regained control over their newly formed bodies, they breathed in for air and cried in pain. In the stead of air their lungs were met with the weight and density of water.

The party started to drown together and they writhed in pain and swam to the surface. They clawed into the earth and crawled out of the body of water. Their fingers were met with the sere and crackled carapace of the earth. As they were coughing the liquid from their lungs, a cloaked figure dashed towards them and quickly pushed them around and frisked their bodies for anything of import. The dark hands worked swiftly but to the stranger’s surprise and to all of the party’s surprise all of their possession were no where to be seen. They rolled in the sand in naught but their underclothing. The one thing that remained among them all was the decanter that they had found in the bottom of the frozen tower. The bedraped stranger quickly found the decanter hanging from Darella’s shoulder. He ripped it from her, breaking the chord and uncorked it, all the while working quickly and deftly. The figure tilted the decanter back under its cowl and drank heartily. It drank ceaselessly for a time and then stopped puzzled, and then poured the decanter out at arms length. The precious ichor flowed from the decanter like rain, it bounced off the hardened ground like so many marbles and was then absorbed quickly by the dessicated earth that had not seen rain in years. The cloaked figure uttered a sound of amusement and discovery, corked the decanter and walked away from the party.

The adventurers were still gathering their reserves and gasping for air as they watched the thief walk away and up out of the crater they found themselves in. When the figure reached the lip of the crater he pointed in their direction and screamed.
“Defilers! I have found Defilers, in the water. They are trying to drink up all the water!” The figure screamed in an odd voice.

Six figures ran down towards the drowning figures, all dressed in scant clothing made of strips of leather and metal buckles and rings, hanging cloth here and there. The men had tools of death strapped to their belts and over their shoulders. The men were apparently guards of some rule system. They circled the now steaming group of “defilers.”
“Who are you and why do you wade in the Surekh’s water.” One of the guards asked forcefully.
“They belong to me! I apologize I will remove them. They are my slaves!” A new man said, who pulled his camel down to the scene. He wiped the sweat from his brow with a length of cloth that hung loosely from his turban.
“You will pay the fine for their crime then.” The guard said.
“Of course, if your men will aid me by putting their restraints on them while we work out the numbers.” The slaver said, retrieving a long chain with manacles placed at various lengths and handing it over to one of the men. Confused the guards started to clamp the hands of the drowned victims to the chain that was attached at one end to the camel.

The slaver lead the confused adventurers away from the watering hole with a large grin on his face, for the price he paid for the defilement fine was far less than half of the price it would have cost him if he bought the slaves new.

They were pulled out of the crater and the scene that unfolded confused them greatly. It seemed they were at the bottom of a dried out lake with small craters where the last bits of evaporating water were found like pools of diamonds in the sand. There was a bigger crater in the center of the lake and there were hundreds if not thousands of people around it. Some armed and herding others to and away from the last bit of water. They were stationed at tables and there were guards taking and counting gold pieces that it seemed they were charging the people to come get a waterskin filled or a jug. The line extended well into the arid horizon. A large wooden scaffolding was build into the dry mountain that overhung the lake. There were banners that hung from the every few levels of the structure. The banners held on a white background a black symbol of a cog. The cog’s bottom teeth extended into writhing tentacles.

The party were drug by the camel to fast to even make sense of the whole scene and before they could react or even call out to the slaver there was a sound of a loud horn in the vale and everyone halted and looked toward the top level of the wooden scaffolding. A man stepped out and rested his hands on the railing of the balcony.
“Good day, my people.” The man said, his voice magically loudened waving an open palm.
“Once again I thank you for your selfless contribution to the cause. I forsee a brighter future for us all, and I hope it gladdens you as much as it does I, to know that you are a part of the resistance.” The man said, smiling. The five slaves heard the man’s voice but it slowly faded and a new voice was heard in their heads.
“The man who is talking is called Surekh Al’ Sharif, or truthfully it is a doppelganger he has made to represent him. He is an evil and radical man. He has delusions of grandeur and aims to destroy the Triumvirate. He has moved from town to town amassing wealth and an army. He has torn through five cities already. His aim is to overthrow the Triumvirate and unite the whole of Rienland under his own banner. I tell you this for I feel that you five may be of use to me.” Said the smooth mellifluous voice in their heads.
“Who are you?” Leomourn asked verbally.
“Shut it! If you cause me more out of pocket I will sell you to a butcher, times are dire!” Said the slaver, the five ignored this.
“I am Tal Rasha. I am a djinn. My part in this is a long and unimportant yarn.” Said the voice
“Why should we trust you?” Amarella thought.
“You don’t have to, you can remain slaves and continue as you will, trusting me and doing as I say will ensure not only your freedom and possessions returned but also the salvation of an entire continent.” Said the djinn.
“Alright then, what are your conditions.” Delgen thought, rolling his eyes and looking at the back of Leomourn’s head.
“I shall bore you with a small amount of details as to ensure you understand the situation. As you all may know as a djinn, I am held to certain ancient pacts. The details are of little import, but in some manner Surekh came into possession of my services…about one hundred years ago.” The djinn paused.
“I am inclined to grant wishes to a master as you all would know. Al’ Sharif’s first wish was of course to never die, as is always man’s first wish. One thing that you may not know though is that despite my being a magical entity, I am not potent enough to grant such a gift. No djinn is. We instead, when posed with such wishes siphon magic from the surrounding environment we have been doing it for centuries which has gained us quite a reputation. So when Al’ Sharif requested this, I drew magic from the nearest source I could…little did I know the consequences.” The djinn said.
“I see a united Rienland, under the new banner, industrialized. I will lead you all into a new age of steam and magic!” The bebalconied man said.
“As you know, eons ago when the prime plane was created, the ones who made it brought elements from all the other planes to make this wondrous realm. The salmander kings gave us fire, the water kings gave us water and on and so forth. The elements here though are only shadows of their true forms. After the material plane was finished they place portals everywhere some hidden some not. These portals are direct paths to other planes, some are used to direct a flow of certain elements so that the balance can be contained. There is one such portal, it is the portal to the plane of water. It is one of the ones that introduces water into our plane. When I cast that wish that fateful day I unknowingly drew power from this well, causing it to seal. Thus this one hundred year drought.” The Djinn sighed.
“The Dry Ages.” Delgen whispered, and hung his bearded head.
“I grew to learn my folly and have been looking for a way to fix my mistake for the last century. Though I granted Al’ Sharif the ability to not die, I did not grant him youth or health. Which he grew to hate, he has been spending his wealth on magics and amulets to extend his youth and keep him resilient to disease. He learned of my trick and used his second wish to seek revenge.” Tal Rasha said
“‘Wealth: I wish for 500,000 gold pieces worth of gold and riches…but I want you to acquire it by hand.’ He said, so I am contracted to earn my freedom. That is why you will notice I have taken all of your possessions. I apologize, but I assure you if you help me you will get all your items back if not more, I just have to ensure my freedom if you fail. I am sure you can forgive me for that.” The Djinn said.
“I have see, in my dreams, a great tentacled beast that will protect you and I as we go forth through these times!” Surekh said.
“Hmmph.” Leomourn crossed his arms.
“Surekh has not used his last wish until recently. He the other day wished for the powers of a god. I revealed to him that the only way to fulfill this last wish was to acquire the Lut Gholein. The tome of creation. This is where you all fall into the plan.” Tal Rasha said.
“In six days there will be an eclipse. During that time and only during that time, will an entrance to the Temple of Heroes appear in the Endless Sands. You must find and enter the Temple, pass all the tests of the Medjay and find the ”/campaign/the-flame-of-time/wikis/the-book-of-creation" class=“wiki-page-link”> Book of Creation. Once you find the tome, I need you to write the death of Serekh on to the pages of that book." The Djinn said.
“Wait…what?” Leomourn thought.
“In six days will be an eclipse.—” The djinn started.
“I got that! But Temple of Heroes? Medjay? Endless Sands? Book of Creation? How do you expect us to do any of that in four days?! In case you can’t see us, even though you are talking in our brains, we are currently chained to a camel.” Leomourn thought.
“I understand it seems overwhelming but I have faith in your performance. Besides, I have two other teams who I have deemed worthy too. The odds are in my favor, I have three teams who all have the same mission…one should prevail.” Tal Rasha said.
“Great, and now we have competition.” Leomourn growled.
“I will give you all a hint that may tip the scales in your favor. It has recently been brought to my attention that a troupe of Medjay have actually ridden into Felden this morning. Perhaps if you find the Medjay one of them can lend you to the Temple of Heroes. Good luck.” Tal Rasha said.
“We are going to fail.” Leomourn said.
The sound of the Surekh’s speech once again took front stage as the mental connection faded. The sounds of thirsty people and bored guards filled their ears. As the man stepped away from the balcony, a loud thunder clap was heard. The man’s chest exploded with a crimson splash as he fell back and was then pulled off the balcony by a shower of hands that appeared from the curtains in front of which he stood during the speech. The guards all spread out a scattered to find the assassin. There was a old man in the line to get water who was hurriedly trying to hide a flintlock rifle in his bag, but to no avail. He was quickly surrounded.
“It’s a farce, I tell you! Do not believe that man, he will not lead us to salvation. Death to Surekh! Long live the Triumviraaaaaaaaaghhggh.” The old man stepped out of line and shouted, and was then brought down by a volley of bullets.
“Now, anyone else want to make an attempt like that!?!” Screamed the guard, while reloading his own rifle. Everyone in line hung their head and fingered what they held in their arms. Despite the fact that the majority could not hold back a smile when the old man spoke.
“Quickly! We need to break free of these chains, but when the time is right. On my mark we will attack this slaver but we need to make sure no one sees the act.” Delgen whispered loud during this time of distraction, the others nodded.
They went on with the slaver with no back talk or defiance.
“That’s right, I’m glad to see you have all had a change of mind. You will enjoy being my slaves.” The large man said on the back of his camel, as he lead them away from the scene and westward towards Felden as he had told them. They moved through a valley where it seemed the once filled lake meandered and met with another large lake. The people were coming from this way.
“Now!” Delgen shouted when they got to a strip of the vale where there was no one is sight. They all rushed the large slaver and tried to rip him from his camel. He screamed and then grabbed at something on the saddle. Right as he touched his magic saddle the manacles started to send pulses of pain into their bodies. They screamed in pain and their bodies twisted and wracked with the pain of a thousands deaths.
Just as they fell to the ground six loud thunder claps were heard again and the slaver fell off his camel and hit the sand with a loud thud, his tongue hanging from his mouth.
“Nobody hurts a fellow Zeithopper,” chided a tall, black-garbed man who walked towards them while reloading pistols. He wore a thick leather duster which was cinched tightly about him with bandoliers and belts carrying an array of exotic looking weapons from a variety of pistols about his chest to a long scoped rifle on his back. His limbs were adorned with a pastiche of numerous vials, scrolls and trinkets. Upon his head rested a tall, wide-brimmed black hat that, despite considerable wear and tear, gave him a proper and gentlemanly bearing. Dangling from his neck were a curious pair of glass and copper goggles, the likes of which none of the party had ever seen. At his hip dangled a long, fearsome blade of curious and alien design.
As the party began to pick themselves up off the ground the mysterious stranger approached them. He holstered his pistols he began to fiddle with a heavy, metallic bracer on his left wrist. They watched as numerous panels and clockwork gears shifted and clicked into place before the stranger, with a satisfied smile, turned to face them. It was then they noticed the tiny flame that danced above his hat.
“My friends, it is good to see you again. It has been far too long,” the black coated man laughed, as he knelt beside the bewildered adventurers.
“I think you’re mistaken, stranger,” Darella said, eyeing the cloaked man suspiciously.
“Aye, I’d think we’d recognize someone like you,” her sister agreed.
“Yes, I suppose you would. I am Wing Commander Griff Byron. I am a Zeithopper just like you,” the man said.
“Zeit-what?” Leomourn said, holding his wrists.
“A Zeithopper, a time traveler like you.” Byron said.
“Time…travel?” Leomourn asked.
“I was sailing the Time Dimension on my way to exterminate the monster on my Letter of Marque and Reprisal, when I saw a bunch of free radicals…you and some others falling through the dimension.” Byron said.
“How did you know we were the ones you saw?” Darella asked.
“The flames over your heads.” Byron said.
“What flame?’ Delgen said.
“For reasons unknown a flame appears above the head of those who have moved through the Time Dimension. Some say it is the flame of time, some say it is your soul, and moving through time burns away the protective cover that kept it from blowing out, like a lantern.”
“I always wondered about the flames!” Leomourn said.
“Other, aye?” Delgen said.
“Yes there were two ahead of you and I think two behind you.” Byron said, placing his six hand cannons in the half-cock position and stowing them away.
“Two? Ahead and before? Did you get a look at any of them?” Darella asked.
“Not really, I was too busy navigating the Time Sea.” Byron said.
“You see, I sail a Zeitship through time. I didn’t even know you all came in during this time or else I would have found you sooner.” Byron said fumbling with the saddle on the camel and finding the release. The manacles all magically fell from the slaves’ hands.
“Can you spare any of those thunder-wands to us?” Leomourn asked, with the twinkle in his eye that had been there since the first time he saw a gun fire just a while ago.
“Excuse me?” Byron said.
“He means your gonnes. Can you lend fellow Zeitskippers some supplies?” Delgen said, pointing at the invisible flame above his head.
“I am sorry, I can not give you any supplies. I am in need of restocking myself. I can give you some excess coin.” Byron said, pulling bag after bag out of his many pockets until he found the one containing the right currency for the time.
“Here.” He said handing it to Delgen, the bag opened revealing a few hundred golden coins.
“I am here to hunt a beast, I will be here for a while. You can either join me and share in the glory of ridding the world of yet another aberration with me, or we can meet later. For I am sure you are yearning to return to your own time.” Byron said, searching the camel.
“We indeed would like to return to our time, but it seems we have been pulled into a shameless plow to exercise our faculties for one’s benefit or entertainment. The faceless force calling us to complete this mission has stripped us of all our possessions to ensure our cooperation. Once we are rid of this inconvenience, we shall indeed join you a sail the Time Stream.” Delgen said.
“Very well, my friends. I will defeat my foe and meet you in the town of Felden in one week’s time. I will be standing by the Adventurer’s Post in the market forum at noon that day. I will wait until nightfall for you and then I will have to be on my way.” Byron said walking away.
“We’ll be there!” Leomourn said and then turning to his comrades asked:
“Where is that?”

They continued down the path and eventually came to a raised city that must have been an island city before the drought caused the lake around it to dry away. They learned that this was indeed Felden. They were lead to the Temple District, which included Inns, a school, a blacksmith’s shop, a rundown bathhouse, and other edifices. At the center of town was a large ziggurat, topped with two temples one red and one blue. To the side of this structure was a temple of Heironeous.
“What is that?” Leomourn asked Delgen, pointing to the stone structure.
“That my boy is…a duel Temple. Sometimes when two sects have similar beliefs they construct a worshiping center for all their followers to come and share similar beliefs. The height of the temples brings the clerics and followers closer to their god, this god is definately a good and benevolent god, as you can see from the stone enscriptions here.” Delgen said with hand on hip, as he took a pair of reading lens from his belt and bent down with squinting eyes.

Just then three hooded figures pulled a screaming slave into view at the top of the many stairs that led to the top of the ziggurat. Two pulled his arms tight as the other drove a curved dagger deep into his chest and pulled out a still beating heart. The blood spilled from the victim’s chest and rolled down the hundreds of steps. The scorching heat even causing some of the blood to rise up like a red mist. When the flowing blood ceased they let the limp body go and it to fell down the bloody steps, a look of freedom on the mangled face was seen when it finally stopped rolling and hit the ground in a cloud of sand and dried blood his limps twisted in a macabre parody of life. The bloody heap settled at the feet of Delgen and Leomourn.
“Great Scott!” Delgen said.
“There is a sacrifice every day to appease Set. The Maruspawn think that the raining of blood on the earth will bring forth the rain and rule of Set to our land.” Said a passerby who noticed the shocked look on the two stranger’s faces.
“What does benevolent mean?” Leomourn asked.
“Let’s find a pub.” Delgen said. They all walked through the town’s forum and found various wares and Delgen handed out coin and they all split to find gear suitable for the weather and for the mission.

“As wind blows over land…” Said a gaunt and pallid elderly man under the roof of a blacksmith’s hut.
“Excuse me?” Amalyn said.
“Nevermind I must have mistaken you for someone else.” Said the man, as he heaved and stuggled to even lift an iron fuller.
“Isn’t that the first line of your Mage’s Guild little rhyme?” Delgen said, from Amayln’s side.
“Huh? What? Oh…is it?” Amalyn said looking off.
“Dear sir, what is your name? My friend here is of ill mind, you see we have just traveled a…very long distance…and we are not of stable thoughts.” Delgen said.
“I am Tvaskar, I am the…smith here.” The man said pulling a blade from the ground and bringing it down to a grindstone which he worked with great difficulty.
“My friend, do you need help?” Delgen offered, seeing the man struggle.
“No, I am just growing weak in my old days. I am just going to wait for my striker to come back from his errand.” The old man said.
“No offense Tvasker but I can’t help noticing that you despite your age have no visible muscle buildup in your arms. Though I am but a priest of Moradin, every dwarf has done a bit of smithing in his life, and I know any more than three days of swinging a hammer will bring a knot to your arms. I do not doubt your expertise, but I just was inquiring about my observation.” Delgen said.
“Indeed, you have seen through my only true forgery. I am no blacksmith, not even a farrier. I can barely lift this hammer. My competencies lie in a more delicate nature. Pray don’t alert the public of my true nature, for the Martinets will be at my door within the next high sun.” Tvaskar said.
“You are of the Mage’s Guild.” Delgen stated.
“Yes. I felt the illirium pulsating from your friend, and though perhaps there was a fellow weaver in Felden, in whom I could confide.” The man said with a tear forming on his lid.
“Never fear my friend, we will not bring light to your secret. Indeed the elf is a user of magic, but she is daft…possibly a savant. I honestly don’t know how she hasn’t blown her self to bits yet. The arcane is much less tame and fickle art than the divine…no offense.” Delgen laughed, but gathered his composure.
“Right. Well if you are truly trust-worthy and friends of the art, I can try my new invention with you, yes?” The old man said.
“Sure, Tvaskar as long as it is not consuming of time, we are quite in a bind to gather what is ours and return to our home…land.” Delgen said.
“I have created a philtre that will imbue a magical enchantment upon whatever metal is submerged within. I put it in this large vat.” The mage said.
“That is used for quenching, very fitting my friend. So what do we do?” Delgen said.
“Just choose a weapon and place it in the vat and it should enchant the weapon. It also is undetectable by any magical means, so those damned Martinets will not bother you if you carry them in public.” The man said. Delgen smirked.

“I come with gifts.” Delgen said as he met the others in the street, arms brimming with weapons of all sorts.
“I just had a man die in my arms.” Leomourn said.
“I found a bar at the edge of town that sells water. It is owned by the Shardhammer clan. There was an announcement presently saying that a one Delgen Shardhammer was coming to town this evening and everyone cheered. Some one bought me a drink…of water.” Amarella said.
“Someone from the local Thieves Guild put this in my pocket…and I didn’t even feel it or see them!” Darella said, holding up a black blade made of skyrock.
“Where did you go?!” Delgen said dropping the weapons.

Before any of the others could explain what had happened to them while Delgen and Amalyn were off getting enchanted weapons in a glistening pool of magic oil and water, they were approached by a stranger who had been waiting by a wooden post that held many parchments to its sides.
“You five look formidable. I have a mission not for the weak of heart or arm, if you are up to the challenge.” The greenish half-orc female said and bowed.
“And who are you, my dear?” Delgen said, stepping to the stranger and grabbing her hand and bowing.
“I am called Glinda. I am Medjay. I have traveled all the way from the golden sands of Shanartha with an army of my people. I have been chosen by my people to be Ar-Rashid, the guide. I am to gather a group of Muharib, warriors to insure the Lut Gholein does not leave the Temple of Substantiation, the Temple of Heroes. If you believe in your hearts that you are indeed Heroes follow me for we have six noons before the Black Sun rises and that is when the entrance to the Temple becomes real. First we must ride out to find the Wandering Oasis and there we will be given the first test, if we shall pass we will find the Durveda. The Durveda is a book written by The Twelve and One, the first Medjay that guides only the most worthy through the many tests of the Temple of Heroes to find the Lut Gholein, The Codex of Moirai, the Book of Creation.” The half-orc said and waited for their response.
“So we have to find a book to find a book?” Leomourn asked.

Led by Glinda, their new companion the derelict town of Felden on a handful of camels. Leomourn claimed that a mount-merchant had died in his arms earlier in the day who he assumed was poisoned, Leomourn searched his body and took the camels the man was selling. They traveled into the darkening sky and into the cold night. They took camp and left early the next day. They trekked onward and ever forwards, hydrated by the Decanter of Endless Water. Which was taken from them as they came into this time, as she drank from it they asked Darella how she held it now. She responded:
“I sneaked up the temple to check it out and found that the Clerics of Set had taken it and it was sitting in the mouth of a Statue. From the doorway I waited as the praying cleric within lay prostrate and I took it back with this tanglefoot rope.” Darella said with a smirk.
“When did you do this, and where did you get that?!” Leomourn said.
“The Thieves Guild, and when you guys were off in the merchant’s quarters lollygagging.” Darella said.
They went onwards until the at high sun Glinda dismounted and stepped forwards looking off in the distance pensively. The others did as she.
“Only the blood of the Medjay will reveal the Wandering Oasis. Blood must fall upon sand to dispel the ancient magics.” Glinda said. She turned around to see her five companions with weapons drawn and ready to bring down their guide.
“Wait! No, just a drop will do!” Glinda said putting an unsheathed dagger to her palm, with a step back.
“Oh, I thought you meant…nevermind.” Leomourn said, putting the arrow back.

A wonderful verdant and beautiful vista befell their eyes as the shimmering magic was removed as Glinda’s blood fell to the ground. It was a small oasis with stone, palms trees, and pools forming from springs in the desert. There was a small wooden archway gave entrance to a long waving pergola that was fashioned out of stone and vegetation. There was movement within the oasis, there was life.
“Let us hope one among us is worthy of the Durveda.” Glinda said.
“What does that mean? What’s a Durv — is that HAM?!” Leomourn said as he left the shaded walkway through an opening in the lattice and running toward a table brilliantly bedizened with only the most succulent and exotic fruits and meats. There were jeweled goblets and decanters filled with only the most expensive and potent potables an imbiber could think of. Leomourn eagerly took a seat and the table and helped himself to the feast before set before him. Amarella followed cautiously, unwilling to leave Leomourn behind, but soon found herself joining him.

“They are lost in their desires.” Glinda solemnly informed the others as they called them onwards. The two continued eating and drinking as if they did not even hear their comrades.

“We must continue,” Glinda said, “There can be no turning back now.”

Delgen responded with a curt nod, muttering to himself something that sounded like “amateurs”. They walked onward, until there was another break in the lattice. This time Darella spied a spring of crystal clear spring of water bubbling upwards from an ancient spring lined with large stones. Nude bathers were frolicking and washing gently in the water, some washing with head tilted back underneath a small waterfall that fell from the warm rock were a small natural spring was born. Hesitantly she passed through the lattice with the Glinda following closely behind.
“Water,” the medjay whispered as she tried to conceal her tears, “I’ve never seen so much. It’s beautiful…”

“Well that leaves us.” Amalyn chuckled to her dwarf companion, a cocky smirk plastered across her face.
“We’ll see,” He said as they marched onwards.

Soon soft moans of ecstasy fell upon their ears as they came upon the next doorway in the path of Worthiness. The libidinous moaning of both sexes could be heard, a score or more writhing forms could be seen locked in wanton knots of carnal conflict. There were members of all races on silken carpets lecherously pleasing partners of same and opposite genders and sometimes themselves, expelling fluids upon the sand and each other.

“You call that an orgy,” Delgen said laughing and stepping onward, “Clearly they’ve never been to the lavender halls of Ashkabok the Randy.”

He looked back to his elf companion to see if she understood his sardonic tone, only to see that he was alone standing under the pergola on that long path of Temptation. Peering back through the doorway he saw the elf already skyclad and joining in the salacious bacchanal, welcomed warmly by it’s attendants as they embraced her in the warm sunlight.

“Kids…” Delgen grumbled to himself as he looked down the walkway, the only one able to steel his resolve, and walked on. He came to the end of the path as it opened to a stone patio circled with palm trees that bowed in mock respect to the altar in the center of the scene, offering a shadow-casting shield from the unrelenting sadistic burning sun.

Delgen walked up to the altar and looked upon a small bound tome no bigger than the square palms of the dwarf. The whole vista that was the oasis fell as sand in the wind when the cleric lifted the journal from it’s stone-hewn rostrum. He looked back behind him as the whole farce fell to the ground as grains of sand. He saw palms blow away in the wind, he saw the verduous tentacles of the grape plant that grew and offered shade to the pathway upon the pergola, that held fruit ripe to bursting upon touch, wisp away in a mock sandstorm. He saw his friends stuffing every office with handfuls of sand. His companions were eating and drinking sand, bathing nude caressing their form with the pumice and grain. Sand fell from both hands into the zephyrs and upon the kneeling mage.

Delgen walked solemnly to his camel and put the book in a side bag and proceeded to fecklessly pull tight random straps and ties upon his mounts’ saddle and barding. He then trifled with his vestments and armour, as he allowed his companions to redress and clear the arenous evidence of their ignominy from in and on their bodies.
“So you got the book?” Asked the elf, mindlessly clearing sand from her mouth and chin.
“Yeah, yeah. I did.” Delgen said, then mounted his camel.

The party rode on in silence, perhaps in shame or maybe in confusion. Delgen would never come to learn if his companions were conscious of their time in the Wandering Oasis or if they just awoke in their drunken stupor unknowing of their fall into temptation. The old dwarf did remember all of the incident and that both amused and haunted him, but nonetheless no one member of their party ever mentioned the time they spent in the Wandering Oasis.

They rode two more suns through the burning heat across the golden sands until at midday there was an overcast of shadows upon the land. Glinda smiled one does when a raincloud is seen overhead on a hot day. They looked on as a giant disk came between them and the sun.
“An eclipse.” Amarella said, as she and her sister clapped palms.
“The Black Sun.” Glinda said. As she spoke a purple vein of arching and pulsating light created a line from the center of the eclipse to the earth, it’s end just over the next sand dune.
“Ride! We must follow the beakon!” Glinda said leaving a wake of kicked up sand behind her. They all followed until at the top of the sand dune they could see in a sand valley the light fell upon a rare sight.
From the sands rose the head of a giant stone lion, and as they rode down the valley of dust the stone lion roared to the sky as if greeting or signalling the Black Sun. The Lion froze with it’s maul gapping, the purple light creating a straight line from the center of The Black Sun into the Lion’s mouth.
“The entrance to the Temple of Heroes.” Glinda said, leaping from her camel and disappearing into the mouth of the beast.

The party delved ever deeper into the sands their path lit by the light of Amarella’s envoy-gift, and the light spells cast from the wizardess. They finally came upon an underground temple in a large cavern, so large that both the tops of the cavern and temple were lost in darkness even with Amarella’s light. They came upon the Temple’s eastern entrance, as divined by the dwarf who was keeping track of depth and orientation of their descent as they went. There was a large stone cog above the doorway, as to block the entrance with one of it’s teeth.
“The first test. A test of strength.” Glinda said.
“Please allow me.” Amarella said, as she stepped forward and put her shoulder into the stone-cog’s tooth and pushed. After sometime of grunting and smashing her shoulder upon the rock she surrendered reluctantly.
“Perhaps the test is sometimes a hero needs help.” Glinda offered. Delgen stepped under the barbarian and grumbled something about stone, Leomourn stood behind his paramour and braced the spade of her back. The three struggled still with the cog, until Amarella called upon her inner strength and the spirits of her ancestors supported her endeavor. Her muscles burst against her restraints and her armour groaned in protest and she pushed harder this time gripping finger marks into the primodial stone cog. The door behind was revealed.

The trials within the Temple were many and protracted, they shall be recorded elsewhere. This yarn shall continue in one of the last rooms of the temple. This was a large square room with four doors and one chest.

The group clambered into the room and brushed off their tunics. They reached a vast, empty room whose architecture suggested a room of great importance. Scanning the room for any sign of life their eyes fell upon the an ancient, ornate chest situated inn the center of the room. However, from the shadows a seven-foot metal being plodded toward the chest accompanied by the clanging of grinding metal. The fearsome being bore an odd symbol carved in the steel plating of the thing’s forehead and long, vicious two-handed war-hammer slung across its broad shoulders.

Leomourn let out a shocked gasp, “It’s a bernard!”

“No, you fool, that thing’s a Warforged,” cried Amalyn as she raised her hands in preparation for battle, “They were created long ago by a mad wizard. He sought to craft a superior race of constructs that could function with independence and intelligence.”

“Let me guess,” Darella said, “They rebelled against their master?”

“Well I didn’t say he was a smart wizard…”

Suddenly a rotund, scarlet-haired dwarf be swathed in alchemical reagents and magical trinkets bounded out from behind the construct. Brandishing a small wand the dwarf advanced on the party as a vicious smile slowly spread across his face.

“What do we have here, Sully? Looks like a band of thieves here to take our treasure.”

At the sound of the mysterious dwarf’s voice, Delgen pushed his way to the front of the party. The normally unflappable cleric’s face was now etched with confusion and fear. When the two dwarves locked eyes time seemed to stand still.

“Heimdall.” Whispered Delgen, more a lost breath escaping in the sound of a name than a proper word.

“The bernard is called Heimdall?” Leomourn asked.

“They must be the other team trying to get the book.” Amarella said to her sister, “Remember the djinni told us we weren’t the only ones he tasked with obtaining the book.”

Heimdall’s beady eyes flashed with white-hot anger. “Father,” he spat out the word as if it was the foulest curse one could utter and though his eyes never left Delgen’s he addressed the rest of the company, “If you associate yourselves with this traitor and pariah then you are to fall just as he. If not, step out of my way.” The young dwarf said, producing a small axe in one hand and an ornate and odd looking wand in the other.
“Heimdal, step down! Ungriim.” Growled Delgen.
“I do not listen to you anymore, Uruk. You have twice cursed the clan of Shardhammer, perhaps more! Zaki Wutroth! Dolemite told me what happened that day you abandoned us.” The Dwarf said first touching the horn hanging from his waist, then glancing at his companion.
“Damn what they told you, boy. Dolemite is a bumbling idiot with nothing but the Clan seat on his mind. His aim was to bring our clan to it’s knees and then Skuf in the Thindrongol. You know not of the truth, pertaining to me or that day!” Delgen said.
“The Moot is always right and just, you got was was deserved. They made the right choice, when they carved your name into the Dammaz Kron. Do you even know what happened to us, what happened to your clan after you left? What happened to me! What happened to mother?” Heimdal said, a tear welling in his eye.
“I was exiled! I was not allowed to see you or the Hollow! When I finally came back it was razed! I looked for you and your mother, but to no avail. I have suffered more than you will ever know boy. Now stand down, I say again.” Delgen said.
“They killed all of them, those Bak-Arglars. I ran to mother who was with Dolemite who had already fallen valiantly staving off the attacks of our enemy. She was over his body, weeping the loss of a true Tromm. I looked off over the Hollow and saw my clansmen fall at the hands of our Urks. I heard my mother scream and saw three flayers advancing upon her, I had no other choice. I blew the Gjallarhorn, the Rorkaz brought down the very foundations of the Kazad around us, killing the enemy along with our own. I thought I was dead! I was the only one to walk from that tragedy that night. And what of you? where you on the surface cavorting and drinking? I am ashamed to be called the Zon of an Unbaraki, oath-breaker!” Heimdal said, as he and the metal being attacked the group.

There was a maelstrom of striking and weapon against flesh and bone. The party was upon the two like wolves. Darella running directly to the chest in the center of the chamber opening its lid only to reveal a ladder that emerged with such force that she had to jump back to save her face from being taken off and away as it ascended towards the ceiling relentlessly. She then jumped upon it and rode it on it’s journey ever upwards.
“Down!” Delgen said as he smashed the knee of his son dropping him to the ground.
“The Moot Lied! Dolemite lied to you, and you are a fool to have believed any of them!” Delgen said as he smashed the boy’s face in with the morningstar made of volcanic stone. A small whimper was heard amongst the flotsam of combat as blood spilled from the red-dwarves’ face upon the dustclad stone floor. The others were upon the metallic being like ravenous beasts ready to rip apart its prey.
“Enough! I yield! Just stay your men, the Forged is mother!” Heimdal said on one knee holding his face with one hand and putting up the other in an open palm, having dropped his weapons.
“Halt!” Delgen said, glancing back at his companions with a fire in his eye that none of them had seen before. Fueled by the reopening of this ancient and most dire wound that he had until this day thought had perhaps closed and was hidden away with years of scarring. His friends could have sworn that there was also tears crawling down his face leaving a glistening trail on the dust ridden cheek bones of the stoic dwarf, but they were to not ever ask or mention this minutia.
“Leave us!” The dwarf said, pointing to the presently disappearing feet of Darella up the ladder that had gone through the ceiling of the chamber through a trap door that opened as the ladder approached.
“I want the horn!” Leomourn said as he jogged past the dwarves, pointing at the Gjallarhorn with a wink.

The group poured through the door into the last and final chamber of the Temple of Substantiation. The room was spacious with deep crimson walls dimly lit by four crackling torches that stood as sentinels in the time-neglected chamber. The air in the room was stale and stagnant. The smell of rotting stone crept into their nostrils as tiny tendrils gripping their attention.
“Did I mention that we have to find the Lut Gholein and exit the temple before the sun rises again.” Glinda said as they jogged down a corridor.
“Or else?” Darella asked.
“We would be trapped in the temple until the next black sun.” The half-orc said.
“When is the next one?” Amarella asked lighting the way.
“Some of the Ayatollah calculate 320 years some say 319, taking the lost day every year into consideration.” Glinda said holding her mace as it crackled with raw energy.
“An altar!” Leomourn said as he crossed a small wooden bridge that gave passage over a dried up river that had seemingly ran through this chamber many years ago.

Just as the archer’s feet bothered the dust on the small trestle there was a sound that echoed within the room like the groaning of a titan. The sound of stone upon stone was heard as the top of the “altar” was pushed aside by an unseen force. A dried and ancient hand grasped the lid from inside the altar, and out stepped a large figure bringing the lid along using it as a shield. The tall entity motioned its right hand in a circular fashion and the dust and sand in the room all gathered at it’s palm and took the form of a khaki coloured sword, made of ever shifting sand.

“Uh-oh.” Leomourn said retreating while pulling his ever-leaking bow from behind his shoulder.
“Guys?” The archer inquired.
“Ten-Ap. The first. It is such an honour.” Glinda said looking upon the large being.
“Who?” Leomourn said, looking over his shoulder as he knocked an arrow.
“Ten-Ap the first Medjay. He was called Rhadamanthus in life and he lead the rebellion against the Red-King. Ten-Ap and his twelve companions defeated the Red-King and hid the Codex of Moirai in this temple. They together placed all the tests in this temple to insure that only the worthy would be able to touch the book.” The now kneeling Glinda said.
“What does the Durveda say about this room?” Darella asked.
“It says: A true warrior writes his own path using his heart.” Glinda said.
“What could that mea-” Leomourn started.
“It’s in his chest! We must defeat him to get the book!” Amarella screamed.
Before Glinda could voice her disagreement the large mummified king advanced upon them, and they unleashed all of their resources upon the foe. After a time of battling their foe, the cleric walked in the doorway.
“Away fellbeast! Ego te absolvo in nomine Patris-totalis! The power of Moradin compells you!” Delgen screamed, brandishing the symbol of Moradin bursting into the chambers, the flames casting light upon the dwarf. There was a mithril encrusted horn that now hung from his belt. The mummy lord just looked at the cleric as its desiccated lips pulled back in a mock smile, having not felt mirth in centuries.
“Hold on.” Delgen said turning the relic around then blowing upon it and then rubbing it on his sleeve.
“I shall kill it with fire!” Amalyn screamed. Her arms instantly became sheathed in long writhing tentacles made entirely of flames. She began to attack the King, lashing out wildly. The flames that were her arms leaving wide arcs of yellow parabolas in contrast to the dark room in the air. The flame-whips not seemingly to ever reach their target, only cutting the air crackling as it burned the dust still left in the chamber. The rampant calligraphy of her lashing keeping the foe at bay not unlike a lion tamer in the many wandering circuses that roamed the land in the colder seasons.
After a time of further battle the king fell to one knee dropping his shield and sword.
“I have defeated him!” Amalyn said, letting her flame-arms fall to the ground the excess fire bundling at her feet like two ropes aflame.
Ten-Ap put his hands to his chest and seemingly pressed his fingers to his sternum. He pulled them apart, revealing his open chest. The antiquarian muscle and skin pulled back like a double gated portal made of nearly rotten flesh.
“The Book!” Leomourn said.
Glinda approached the fallen foe and reached into the First’s chest. She brought the book out into the dim torchlight. The ancient tome was bound in what seemed to be leather at first sight, but upon second glance it appeared to be made of some alien substance that pulled at the voyeur’s sanity.
“I must reveal to you that my sole mission in coming to this temple was to insure that this book never leaves this sanctified place and I will, without second thoughts kill any one of you if attempt to come between me and my intentions.” Glinda said, tightening her grip upon her mace.

View
Frozen In Time
He who ignores History has no past...or future.

After almost drowning at the bottom of the lake, Delgen brought Haradon to the surface and walked him over to the others.
“Thank you for freeing me.” Said the dripping man.
“Aye.” Said Delgen.
“But who are you?” Haradon asked.
“We are formally slaves under your rule, and this is a one Leomourn Stalkingwolf.” Delgen said
pointing at the archer who had been silent and wide-eyed during the whole event.
“Leomourn? But—I thought…I saw Fafnir take you, along with your mother!” Haradon said puzzled.
“I…wasn’t…I saw you leave…” Leomourn said with tears welling at the corners of his eyes.
“Son, I didn’t know. I thought he had taken the two of you. I have been chasing that giant for over ten years now, just to get back to you and your mother.” Haradon said, tears crawling down his cheeks.
“It seems you went to great lengths to find your son, even enslavement.” Delgen said.
“I admit the search became an obsession, there seemed to be nothing left to live for. The drive to find and defeat that foul giant was the only thing keeping me alive. I became a slave to the obsession and also to the bottle. I was determined to make that giant pay for his crimes.” Haradon said.
“You enslaved innocent people.” Delgen said.
“An act I shall never forgive myself for, but you would not understand the pain I felt. I was a desperate man. After I swam the whole north sea, I came to this land. My face lay in the sand of my brother’s. A rider found me and took me to the kingdom. Someone noticed the family ring I wore, I’ve since sold that in my efforts, and took me to see my brother Tyric. He supported me in my actions and saw me off when I had gained my strength. He even devoted what resources he could to locate Fafnir. I left and continued, some times I called upon my brother for gold to fund my efforts…” Haradon said with guilt.
“You used gold from a royal treasury to fund forced slavery, which I am sure is a crime in the eyes of the Triumvirate?” Asked Delgen heatedly.
“In retrospect there is a whole gamut of things for which I should be ashamed. I shall in time forgive myself, but I just hope Tyric will forgive me…and you. I only ever started the slavery after I met Malifustal.” Haradon said.
“What do you mean?” Delgen asked.
“Seven years ago I was drunkenly wandering Dreadwood, perhaps in hopes of a beast ending my pain. In fact I was approached by a beast that caused me more pain. Malifustal said she knew my nightmares and could help. She offered me a deal, that if I retrieved the Heartstone within the next seven years, she would help me kill Fafnir.” Haradon said.
“What does this stone do?” Amarella asked.
“The Heartstone is actually the heart of an ancient giant. He lead the giants in many battles against dwarves and other races, he was defeated and left on the battlefield to rot. His body did verily rot, but his heart remained. His heart had become a pulsating red stone, like a huge ruby. He who holds this stone has control over all the giants, they obey his will. Many have fought over this artifact, and in efforts to keep it hidden and out of anyone’s hands good or evil; a spell was placed upon it. The dwarves put a spell upon it so that if left untouched it would burrow deep within the rocks and fire of the earth, and every ten years it would relocate.” Haradon said, noticing Delgen shifting awkwardly and wincing.
“Malifustal wanted the stone so that she could create an army of giants to take into The Grey Wastes and turn the tides of the eternal war and reign supreme, and eventually take over all the realms of hell, I assume. I of course did not believe her, but she aided me by giving me a number of her grimlocks and told me where the next location of the stone would be. I assume she was going to use me to get the stone and then kill me, so I had planned on finding the stone and use it to kill Fafnir and get rid of it. When I the Festival of Life neared I grew more and more apprehensive and rash. I had tree main mines and had heard news of my Memorist feeling the stones presence, but there was a breakout I was told. I was kidnapped and woke up in that cursed temple of Anthraxus. Malifustal was furious that I had failed in retrieving the stone. She had me drug to a basilisk, and that was the last thing I set my eye upon. My life replayed in my mind in those last few moments, my old life with my wife and child. I wept for those days, and then the last ten years of my life wasted on many failed plans to find and be reunited with my family. I did not fear or welcome my fate for I felt so empty, I had already lived through a hell and doubted anything could best that. Until I woke to breathing pond scum.” Haradon said.
“We stopped your slavers.” Amarella said.
“What?” Haradon said.
“We were the escapees who foiled the retrieval of the Heartstone. We broke out and stopped your slavers from getting the stone.” Amarella said.
“You? You all were the slaves? But why? Why did you do that?” Haradon said, puzzled.
“Long story…” Delgen said.
“You stopped…you. Well doesn’t that work out.” Haradon said.
“What then lead you to Dreadwood, and more importantly to Malifustal’s cursed temple?” Haradon asked.
“Another long story…basically we were sent to get this locket for some Mind Flayer who has their parents held captive, and is working along side her mother. It sounds crazy as it is, and why an Illithid would want a piece of jewelry so badly escapes me…sounds more like a tosser to me.” Delgen said.
“Speaking of that what are we going to do now that we have the locket…” Leomourn said.
“The Mindflayer said to bring it to him.” Amalyn said.
“And where is he again?” Leomourn asked.
“He told us to meet him at the next location on The List.” Amalyn said.
“And where was that?” Leomourn said, fingering an arrow.
“Well since he came and got the list, we can’t look, but as a wizard I have an eidetic memory.” Amalyn said.
“Oh?” Delgen said.
“Yeah…two days west of Kraggenmoor.” Amalyn said.
“We shall see.” Said Delgen
After some days of travel the party arrived back at Raven’s Pointe they took a short rest there and allowed Haradon to room in on of their many in Bellamin’s old tower. Haradon agreed to stay there for a time to watch over the tower and think about his past decisions and what to do to regain his wife. The party continued for a few days travel until they arrived in the north of Rienland, it started to get colder and wetter with every step.

After a days of walking through mud and ice, and warming their wet boots by the fire at night they finally arrived at the gate of a walled city. It was in the middle of the night when they arrived and the gate was not locked or fully closed. They pushed open the door to find the whole city to be asleep with nary a guard or soul outside. There were no guards on the wall or at posts or even at the gate. They walked the town and walked into the nearest building with lights coming from the windows. They walked into the Inn.

The inn was filled to the walls with people of all sorts. There were men with heads of donkeys, owlmen, and weremen. The bartender was a man with a bear’s head and fur.
“Welcome to Kraggenmoor.” Said the bartender.
“Hello.” Said Leomourn.
“What brings you to Kraggenmoor?” Asked the Bartender.
“We’re just passing through.” Said Delgen.
“Ah, well your aims are yours. We won’t pry, come have a drink.” Said the Bartender.
The group took a table and drank merrily, Leomourn a little more than the others Delgen kept up with Leomourn but his stout frame and centuries of drink training allowed him keep his sobriety.
After a few drinks Delgen learned that the town had suffered economically lately and that was the reason for no guards and why some of the homes housed no souls.
“This is gift for your fine hospitality.” Delgen said loudly as he thumbed two platinum coins on to the bar and informed that everyone within could drink from what that amount covered.
“So what are you all doing here?” Said a smaller man who had wandered up to the bar.
“We are here to find where Cylarus’ lives.” Screamed Leomourn, Delgen coughed and spit his lager on the bar and grabbed Leomourn’s arm and pulled him from the bar.
“Cylarus’ old house is right out by the town’s statue, it has white doors!” Screamed the smaller man as the dwarf pulled the tall drunken archer from the bar.
“We are not here to spread our personal expeditions. You ought to put a filter on what filth spews from your icy mouth.” Grumbled Delgen in Leomourn’s drunken ear.
“I…just found you the loc…l…location of Cylarus’ house!” Mumbled Leomourn.
“Well done, I found out a half hour ago.” Mumbled Delgen sardonically.
They exited and were followed soon by the three girls. Delgen was dragging Leomourn through ice and snow, trying to shake him of his drunkenness.
“Hey, why are you two out here?” Asked Amarella.
“This one doesn’t know how to hold his drink.” Delgen said.
“I am a…WOLF!” Said Leomourn.
“Yes, yes you’ve said that.” Delgen said.
“Apparently Cylarus lives over there.” Darella said, pointing north.
“Oh? Well we should investigate.” Said Delgen, once again dripping with sarcasm.
They all moved toward the house and sneaked near the front door. Even though there were no guards on the street, they kept quiet and in the shadows. All except Leomourn.
“Whoooooooo!” They all looked back to see their drunken archer climbing the statue in the middle of the street.
After Darella explained that the lock was much to complex even for her skills to unlock, they all decided to go find a room at an inn in which to retire for the night, before their drunken comrade brought unwanted attention to them. Leomourn refusing to sleep in a bed, they left him out in the streets. He chose to sleep while in canine form and slept outside the inn.
They awoke the next day and once they went down stairs to feast on hardtack and old eggs they were approached by the first town guards they had seen.
“Your attendance is requested by the Duke.” Said the guard.
“We will escort you to his dinning hall when you will.” Said the other.
“Why have we earned presence to the Duke of this fine city?” Asked Delgen.
“He has set his eyes upon you and has business he would like to discuss with you, to which we are blind and deaf.” Said the first.
“We acquiesce. We shall join but first, allow us to peruse the wares and crafts of this fine city. Perhaps we may don livery more appropriate to the gaze of a Duke as fine as yorn.” Leomourn said, the jaws dropped on all of his comrades.
“What? I can talk fancy too.” Leomourn said.
They walked around town and bought winter clothing more fitting for the icy weather of the north. They bought gloves made from ermines, a coat of white-bear, wolfpelt boots(much to Leomourn’s chagrin) and Delgen bought the only Owlbear cloak, claiming it was the most finely crafted one he had seen. They met back with the guards and were then taken into the Duke’s castle.
“So what is dukie’s name?” Leomourn said.
“Duke Marius Wolfsbane.” The guard replied, Leomourn stopped in place.
“How does one come to earn a name like that?” Delgen said after grabbing Leomourn by the arm and urging him along with the rest of the group.
“Marius is from a long line of Wolfsbanes…he well, you will know when you met him.” Said the Guard.
They were led in and were seated at a large dinner table so high that Delgen needed to sit upon a large cushion of which he was reassured was filled with the finest of pegasus’ feathers. The food was extravagant the dinner guests had to suppress orgasm with every morsel and every drop.
“I absolutely adore this dish. Even though I hunger no longer, I still can taste and for that I am grateful.” Said a voice that was coming from the shadows cast from the hearth at the head of the table. Stiffled sounds were heard from the dinner guests.
“Forgive me for startling. I am Marius. Duke of Kraggenmoor. Welcome to my house.” Said the now visible face of a sallow beautiful man as he stepped from the shadows of the fire. The dinner quests told him their names.
“What trick of the eye or mind is this that I can hear and smell the one among you who takes the form of a wolf but not a flicker of his being falls upon mine eye?” Asked the duke as he sat at the table and grabbed a silver lined goblet and drank from it deeply and sensually.
“He wears a blessed armour that hides him from the prying eyes of those cursed with the taint of undeath.” Delgen said.
“I am hidden to my enemy.” Leomourn snarled.
“Which brings me to my next subject.” Said Marius with a nod of understanding.
“It is true that I am undead. I am what my people call a fleshbound Vampire. I was bitten many years ago by a pure Vampire. As a result I was turned into what I am now. We are the same as a pureblood in most aspects; we die in sunlight, stake through the heart, and garlic smells horrible, but we differ in that we can not take an alternate form such as a bat wolf or mist. Now, I have been the Duke of this city for many a year and turned this town into a safe haven for all sorts of monsters. I have accepted those who were driven from their own homes by even in some circumstances their own loved ones. I was loved and trusted…until recently. For about a year now, young girls have gown missing. Disappearing in the night, no blood or trail to follow even with my keen nose. Naturally the townsfolk started to get curious and who better to assume than the town Vampire? My popularity started to decline as I assumed it would, garlic started to line the doors and windows of this town, even to the point of raids on my castle and my people started to leave town. Over half of the population have left by now, I know not if the ones who remain are still supporters of mine or are here of necessity. The whole town has suffered economically because of the desertion. This is why I have called you to dine with me. I have two favours to ask of you.” Said the Duke.
“Go on.” Delgen said.
“Firstly I ask a monetary aid. I have an abandoned mansion of which I noticed last night you all had a certain interest in. If you purchase this mansion, not only would you have a wonderful winter home to rest and regroup in when you visit my town in the future, you would be stimulating Kraggenmoor’s economy. I will also mention that the lock is of arcane build and without the key, no one will ever enter that house. As I assume you already know, the previous owner of the house was a prominent wizard and his house is well guarded against intrusion.” The Duke said.
“Will you not just grant us entry to look about the fine abode?” Leomourn said, invisibly.
“I do not know what you seek but I assure you, given the situation of my town I will not allow you entry without the purchase of the mansion. I apologize but must think of my town firstly and secondly no offense, have no reason to trust or have a desire to help a group of strangers who tried to commit a crime and vandalized my town the first night they visit.” The Vampire said looking in the direction of the invisible werewolf.
“How much do you demand?” Delgen asked after the group discussed in hushed voices for a time.
“An honest 5000 gold crowns will loosen the key from my neck.” Marius said, causing Leomourn to choke upon the wine of which he was sipping.
“Fine, you better be glad that we need to get into that house so badly.” Darella said. They all started to finger gold from their purses and finally pushed over a bag towards the Duke’s end of the table. He responded by taking a chord from his neck, tied to the end was an elaborate white-gold key.
“Now, on to the second order of business. I wish for you to rid the land of the cause the kidnapping. Not only is it ruining my legacy and Kraggenmoor’s but it is causing grief and pain for the families who have lost daughters, and I can only imagine worse for the little girls themselves.” The Duke said.
“How are we to trust that you are not truly the one taking the little girls and drinking them dry?” Delgen said, gently slamming his tankard on the Black Oak table.
“I can assure you that I am not the predator, for though I do dine on the blood of criminals and lesser animals, for my own daughter was one of the girls stolen. She has been gone for a few weeks now and I weep every night for her safety though I am almost sure she is dead or worse.” Marius said with a true tear of blood crawling down his cheek.
“We will find the offender and return your child if we can.” Amarella said.
“I thank you for your help, please if you can return my daughter to me…she is my angel.” Marius said.
“Now I suspect sweets are in need, Jimithy! Bring our guests the dessert!” Marius called toward the kitchen door, the eyes off all the guests went wide and their mouths stood agape.

Darella put the arcane key into the lock that held fast the door of Cylarus’ mansion. She turned it and they found themselves in a wonderful lodge with only the finest furnishings and ancient tomes acquired from the most venerable librarians. After looking around the whole house and sitting in the more comfortable chairs, they found a hidden portal behind a large portrait of a massive valley during a winter storm that swiveled out like a door. They found an odd keyhole and a poem at the bottom of the portal. After dissecting the poem and it’s hidden meanings they found the three items that formed the key and they gained entry to the basement.

They descended the stairs into a darkened basement, Amalyn cast a light spell on a coin and held it out. They found a long hall that curved out of sight, with one room betwixt the staircase and the unseen end of the hall. They walked into the room and found a room filled to the ceiling with books and scrolls. The group spread and searched the room, Darella found a detailed map that lead to Cylarus’ castle, where he apparently practiced all his Chronomagic. According to his notes the colder locations make it easier to manipulate Time Magic.
“I found a diary, listen: I accomplished one of my two goals, Immortality. Or at least an extended form of life. I have extracted the soul of an unworthy sleeping dragon whom I found sleeping on a mound of frozen gold. I am going to enter his husk, of which he was undeserving by any account. Such power! I visit him sometimes to remind him of what he could have been. Of my other goal, time magic…I am close…so very close.” Amalyn read.
“Can he do that?” Leomourn said listening to the elf as she read.
“I have sealed his mouth so that I would not have to listen to him.” She continued.
“Umm…guys?” Darella said from outside the room. She had sneaked down the hall as they were listening to the diary entries.
The rest followed the rogue down the hall until it curved and descended until they came upon another sectioned room. In the middle of the room, lit by two short candles on the walls was a large wooden post that was driven through the floor. Tied to the post was what seemed to be a white, glowing man, on his knees. His arms were tied together behind him to the post. In his chest was the blade and handle of an obsidian sword. An inky liquid dripped slowly from the wound in which the sword rested. The liquid fell to the floor and froze adding to the large puddle of frozen inky black ice that encompassed most of the floor. The man groaned and opened his eyes and lurched towards the intruders, sneered and growled…though the sound came from his chest and throat for where his mouth should have been was naught but skin.

“That dragon soul in the basement is really going to damper any house-warming party we are to have.” Delgen said as they lounged in the mansion above.
“Do you think he can get free?” Amarella said.
“If he could, I assume he would have by now.” Delgen reassured.
“Either way I feel safer with the portal closed.” Amarella said.
“What are we going to do with it?” Leomourn said.
“We will come to that after we deal with everything else, I guess.” Delgen said.
“Where to next then?” Darella said, laying across a chair with the map in her hands.
“I guess to Cylarus’ tower, isn’t that were Eldranoth is supposed to be?” Leomourn said.
“Why does he want this locket anyway?” Delgen said, turning it round in his dwarven hands.
“Who cares? I just want to give it to him and be done with him! His tentacles bother me!” Amarella said.
“Do you think he will turn over your parents for the locket?” Leomourn pondered.
“I hope.” Darella and Amarella said in unison.
The group left Kraggenmoor early the next day. Marius saw them off and gave them his blessings and sent them on their way with wrapped portions of Jimithy’s fine cooking. They marched off into the morning snow as the Duke of Kraggenmoor watched them leave under the cover of the dying night.

After two days of marching west into the frozen landscape, they came upon a cliff. When they cast their eyes over it, they found themselves at the lip of a large vale. From this vantage they could make out a small tower at the center of the white valley. They continued down towards the black island among the vast whiteness of a coming blizzard.

“A wizard’s welcome is always a curse under the guise of a gift?” Amalyn read from a small wooden sign before the tower.
“No truer a statement have I heard.” Delgen laughed.
“What does that mean? And what kind of door is that?” Asked Leomourn, pointing at an arching stone structure where a door would have been. It had a tree carved of stone and there were seven raised stone spheres, some on branches some on roots.
“I guess we have to press one of the surrounding buttons and press the center one and should be granted entry.” Amalyn said after examining the thing.
“Yeah? They you go first. I don’t want my beard hairs to burn away by a mage’s trap.” Delgen said.
“Okay…” Amalyn said and touched two stones and right away she disappeared. The outlying stone she had touched burned brightly and then the symbol that had been there before faded and it remained just a stone.
“Well let’s hope she is inside and not in some hell dimension or in an acid pit.” Delgen said and they all followed suit.
They all found themselves in a small dark room with no floor or ceiling, they just stood on black and were being surrounded by black too. They looked at each other and noticed that they had not just appeared in this room together but much more.

Amalyn’s eyes had fallen out of her head and into her hands and a black substance was oozing from where her eyes used to be. Delgen was hovering as if weightless and brown cracked horns had torn through his skin at his hairline, his boots tore as his feet turned into cloven hooves, and a tail ripped through his breeches, his back was as well bent and hunched like that of a crone’s. Leomourn’s legs swelled to monstrous size and mass. His mouth fused closed much to his fright as a large toothed and drooling mouth bared its teeth in his abdomen after the teeth ripped his flesh open from the inside. Darella’s pantaloones of teleportation and boots of the spider were cast aside as her legs began to grow together from her trunk downwards, until where here legs had been a large serpentine tail was writhing and twitching and glistened in the black room. Amarella’s back ripped open at the shoulders as midnight black feathered wings stretched forth as the sprouted from her spine. She turned around and as she did where her face used to be was an amorphous mass of skin, that pulsed and undulated as she stood there. Random lone features like a nose or an eye or mouth of mixed sex and races would surface and then disaapear.
“This is awesome!” Amarella said.
“Do you accept my gift?” Read Amalyn from a small bronze plaque floating in the expansive black.
“There are two buttons one says yes, the other no.” Delgen said after he had floated over to the elf.
“I do not!” Delgen said in disgust as he punched the bronze button that said no, and flicked out of sight.
They all followed the dwarf’s lead except for Amarella who touched the yes button. They all appeared in what appeared to be a wizards’ observatory. They all save Amarella cried out in pain as their deformed bodies were restored to normal.
“Well that was weird.” Said Leomourn, happy to have his mouth back.
After they examined the room and found nothing but notes and calculations of astrological figures and such they decided to descend a set of stairs into the tower’s lower level.
They continued their search until the sound of steel scrapping iron was heard as a tiefling assassin failed an attempt at knifing Delgen as they were quietly searching the tower. After a short struggle they had the little demoness bound and gagged, so quickly that they did not even notice that her left arm was naught but bone engulfed in a black flame that did not burn or give off heat. As Delgen was marshalling his reserves after the failed attempt at his life and while he was examining the tower’s furnishings.
“What an impressive tapestry.” Delgen said. Leomourn loosed five arrows in the tiefling’s smooth face.
“What?” Leomourn said, as the others looked at him in confusion.
They continued downwards and fought another tiefling who fled upon defeat. They also surmised that these were indeed not “lower” levels of the tower but in fact the topmost floors of a tower that was mostly underneath a frozen lake that was the flooded valley.
They descended the tower and came upon a large staircase and climbed down. Leomourn led the party.
“There they are. Brother Barakiel, they are the ones who have killed our dearest sister Belaria. I also sensed that there was a lesser fire demon in the elf.” Said the bigger more stout tiefling whom they had defeated earlier, though he had escaped by tossing a clay ball at his feet and he disappeared in a flash of smoke.
“Yes, Belkor. I feel the demon too, no match to our Lord Kaurophon. The Lord of the Eighth has no equal.” Said the thinner older looking demon-mage. Both these demons, like their sister, had sacrificed the flesh of their arms to the fire demon and in return were granted use of his infernal flames, their skeletal arms posing as conduits for the damned conflagrations.
“Krust. These are the foul ones who killed your master.” Said the smaller tiefling with a wink of his eye. Implying to the group the pride he felt in the prevarication he told the beast that had stepped from behind a pillar.

What stepped from the chill shadows was in form a man, but much more and in some ways much less. It stood a few heads taller than even the tallest of the group, Amarella. It was a broad as a small hut and was hard as the stones cut from dwarf craftsmen. It appeared as if this beast was a stone golem, but incarnate, by some ancient and vile magic. His visage was wracked with grief and then anger at the accusation, then proceeded to charge the party.
His colossal palms crushed Leomourn’s torso and head as if he were just a minor pestilence buzzing around in the hottest of months. Leomourn’s skull cracked under the pressure as well as his chestplate. He fell to the ground, dead.
The rest of the party loosed daggers, spells, hammers, and blasts of light in recompense. They fell all three foes, suffering from injuries themselves. The servants of the demon lord had cast spell that split their tongues and tried to crack their psyche, but they had in the end prevailed. They stood over their fallen comrade and stood in silence, filled with disbelief.

Disbelief in the fact that they had lost a member of the party so integral, disbelief in the sheer strength of the living golem, but mostly in disbelief that Leomourn had chosen to not only take point in the blind onslaught but to also descend the stairs of certain death suffering mortal wounds with nigh a drop of restorative elixir nor the care of Delgen’s healing hands.

In the same instant that tears welled in all of his comrade’s eyes, Leomourn opened one of his followed slowly by the other. A communal gasp then sigh was heard in the icy tower. Confusion and annoyance filled the room as they walked around the bottom of the tower wondering how Leomourn survived such an attack.
“I don’t know, I’m just strong.” Leomourn said, as he was fumbling with the contents of one of the fallen tiefling’s coin pouch.

He found two vials of a milky bluish substance that Delgen identified as Sannish. Sannish being a highly addictive drug that was made from the powdered form of a desert plant boiled in the milk of a she-wolf. The users of this particular drug were identified by the staining of their mouths, caused by the plant, a pale blue colour. Which the three tieflings carried upon their now dead mouths.

They walked around the bottom of the tower, Darella quickly shutting the, what would be front and ground door after opening it and seeing the tonnes of chilled water being held at bay by some arcane enchantment. In one room they found a dark and bloody charnel house. There were bones and blood all over the floor and walls of the large room. Chains whips and torture devices hung from the walls. At one in there was a dark and blood altar, to whom Delgen recognized was devoted to Kaurophon the demon. There were tools of dark worship and symbols carved in the walls and floor around the altar. In the corner of the room, Darella could be seen shoving things into her bag. There was then a movement and when they looked towards where the stirring came from they saw to their surprise that one of the corpses that was chained to the wall was still alive. They walked near and saw that it was the naked and cold body of a young woman. She was malnourished, beaten and bloody. Her eyes were swollen, almost shut, upon her back were a pair of bloody and scabbed stumps protruded.
“Here you go, love.” Delgen said as he took his pristine Owlbear cloak and wrapped it around the nude and shivering girl, after breaking the chains with his hammer. The girl winced in pain as the cloak lay upon her wounds.
“What are those on her back?” Leomourn axed. The girl tried to talk but only hoarse whispers escaped her worn throat.
“They were wings.” Amarella gasped in recognition.
“What is your name, lass?” Delgen said putting his arm around the girl.
“C…Cas…Cassiel. " The name crossed her teeth after great effort.
“Are you the last of the girls?” Asked Darella, as they moved the girl from the charnel room.
“No. They killed many for their foul rituals, there are three more over there. They said they were going to wait and use me last.” The girl said tears escaping her wincing eyes.
“Because you are an angel.” Amarella said.
“Yes.” Cassiel said.
“Those cursed beasts! A worthy sacrifice to a demon lord. We assure you dear, that we have rid the world of your captors…their corpses lay right over there. You are assuredly safe now, my dear.” Delgen said sitting the girl down on the bottom step of the stair case, pointing at the fallen corpses of the tieflings. The others loosed the other girls who were on the brink of death and brought them to Cassiel. Delgen was fast upon them soothing their ailments and their sensibilities.
“I can heal all of your wounds save your wings, poppet.” Delgen said and started to work his deft and ameliorative hands.
“Now, we must venture deeper into this accursed tower to finish our own quests. You may stay here in this tower or if you think you may be able to find your way back to Kraggenmoor we will come for you later, you may keep my cloak until we return.” Delgen said kissing the hand of the young angel.
“I think that I can find my way back home, I will lead these three girls. My father will be glad to know I am alive, and I will be sure to tell him of your role in my survival and advent.” Cassiel said.
“Aye, and who is your father then?” Delgen asked.
“Marius Wolfsbane.” Cassiel said, now picking at a piece of hardtack that Amarella had given her, who was sitting beside her.
“I should have guessed.” Delgen said.
They left the girl on the staircase and then found a room that held but one table and one rug. Upon the table was a decanter, modest in size but not in make. It was placed in the center of the table with a small plaque before it. It read:
“My foes flooded my vale with this artifact, knowing that whence the winter winds would wind their way here that the deluge would become an icy grave for me and my tower. I had scried upon them in time and cast a protective spell around my abode. It was still engulfed but I rather like the outcome, it is much more conducive to my studies and privacy. I then came upon my enemies like a plague and took the tool of their machinations. I hold this decanter in my foyer to remind myself and others, to not meddle in the affairs of not only a mage but a man obsessed.”
The plague was signed with the signature of Cylarus. While the rest were reading the golden plaque, Darella had already taken the decanter and was tying it to her belt. She was now kneeling in the center of the room. She moved to the one end of the rug and started to finger the edge.
“I would like to see you walk that rug out of here.” Delgen chuckled. Darella glared at Delgen and responded by tossing aside the rug, revealing a trap door that was previously hidden underneath.
They walked down the subterranean tunnel that the trap door had revealed. As they descended they felt the air grow colder. Until they came upon a large atrium hundreds of feet wide as well as high. Darella had scouted ahead and discerned that not only was their a large cauldron in the center of the chamber that was boiling a substance that looked not unlike the fluid in the vials that the archer had found on the bodies of the demon worshipers, but there was also in the room a sleeping dragon.
They stormed the chamber and unleashed all they had on the dragon knowing that their best bet was to attack while the beast was sleeping. The dragon fought and breathed blast after icy blast upon them valiantly. Darella teleported behind and rode the dragon’s back slicing at it’s wings, in attempts to bring it down and keep it grounded. Whilst she was balancing on the beast’s back she overheard Amalyn’s monotoned encantations and recognized the intonation of certain familiar arcane syllables and the mages’ timbre.
“NO! I’m here!” Darella called out to the magic weaver.
“Too late. I have already started!” Amalyn said and loosed the spell upon the dragon and the abaft rogue.
The darker of the Darkeyes twins was badly burnt and teleported safely away from the magical holocaust. She found herself hiding behind the ever-boiling cauldron and from her vantage gazed upon the dragon whom was screeching in pain from the immolation in which it found itself. She felt his agony. She noticed that not all of this white dragon was as alabaster as the ice in which the chamber was so blanketed. The lips and tongue of this beast were a pale cerulean hue. She thought back to what Delgen had said and almost immediately pushed with all her might against the cauldron. Her knees popped and her thighs tore under the pressure but she did not stop until all of the azure contents of that boiling vat were strewn upon the frozen floor of the chamber.
The dragon seemingly screeched louder than it had when its flesh was burning at the sight of the fallen liquid. It promptly absconded from the combatants and towards the spilt and ruined drug that had held such a grasp upon it’s body and mind. It then started to lick up the last bits of the milky liquid before it froze to the ice below for ever.
“Quickly now! Loose all your resources upon the foul beast!” Called Delgen.
The party fired arrows, cast fire spells, and threw hammers until the beast finally fell. From the moment those thousands of sapphire beads fell across the frigid landscape the drake was so engrossed with the lapping up of its remains that it took the brutal thrashing until it’s final breathe with which it tried to slurp the last bit of that bluish ichor it so loved.
“Was that Cylarus then?” Amarella asked.
“I guess.” Darella said.
“It seems we found the body of the dragon spirit we found in our basement.” Delgen said.
“Why was he so obessed with that stuff in the pot?” Leomourn asked.
“I can only assume the body or even the soul had a certain affinity to that foul drug. It might have even been involuntarily drugged to keep it at bay and used as a guardian.” Delgen said.
“I found the same drug on those demon guys above.” Leomourn pondered.
“Perhaps the cultists drugged the dragon and then inhabited his tower.” Amalyn said.
“Yes, quite likely. But what could this beast have been guarding?” Delgen asked.
“Well, there is one obvious way we can find out.” Leomourn said as he pointed to the aperture in the cave wall opposite the one from which they entered.
They slowly entered and once again descended the roughly hewn steps of the even colder hall.
“How deep do the tendrils of this foul tower reach?” Asked Amalyn.
“Keep in mind that we just descended under the actual ground through the hidden portal in that foyer. The first few levels of this spire were concealed underneath a layer of frozen water. I can tell you one thing for certain…these stairs were cleaved by dwarven hands.” Delgen chortled quietly.
They came upon yet another chamber. There was a light and the sounds of voices, some muffled, that crept from the room. They stepped in all at once. The scene that unfolded before their eyes was one that was much unexpected. A large contraption dominated most of the room that resembled a large but stout three-branched candelabra. Above the center, hanging from the ceiling of the chamber was a large crystal whose point aimed to the middle of the whole contraption. The center was topped with a large platform and standing in the middle of the dais was none other than Eldranoth. He smiled as best he could with eyes and tentacles. He raised his arms in hopes to avert attention to the other two platforms. When the interlopers looked upon the raised daises they were greatly surprised to see the bound and gagged forms of two gaunt and sickly looking humans. The Darkeyes twins identified these captives as their parents and recoiled but then regained their composure.
“As per our agreements; administer to me the list, which we both know you accomplished..of sorts, and deliver to me the locket, and I shall not only relinquish your parents but help you reveal the location of your long lost father. Now it seems like exactly half of the arrangement has been met on both parties. So it seems as if there is one last exchange that needs to be made. The locket, where is it?!” The Illithid demanded.
“We have brought your confounded locket! Now release those poor souls!” Delgen said, pulling the chain from his belt with a clenched fist. The iron grip of the venerable cleric was still no match for the psionic tow of the mind flayer, and soon the metal pendant was torn form Delgen’s hand.
“Now.” The Illithid rolled it’s viridian eyes back into its head and closed them. Almost immediately the two bound humans started to hum and murmer the chants needed and move their hands deftly. The gigantic crystal that hung precariously above the whole scene started to glow and pulsate. Then before anyone present could react a white beam not unlike lightening came down from the crystal and came upon Eldranoth. The mind flayer popped out of existence with a loud clap of thunder and a concussion blast that knocked Amalyn off balance, but not before the tentacled horror waved one final goodbye.
“No!” Leomourn said as he started in the direction of the dais.
“So many questions!” He said.
As Leomourn reached the center dais and was going to climb it a second pair of steps sounded upon the platform. They all looked up in surprise to see the shape of Pamalyn walking to the center of the scene. She walked under the crystal holding nothing but a bundle wrapped in brown cloth in her hands, cradled like an infant.
“…” Amalyn was so taken aback she could not speak.
“That your mom?” Leomourn asked, looking over his shoulder.
“Now, my turn.” The elf said. The two tied chronomages shook their heads and made gestures with their hands.
“They’re trying to say that the crystal will break if you make them do it again!” Amarella screamed, with one step forward.
“Silence! Do as I say!” The mother of the wizard said. She made gestures with her hands and with that the bound Darkeyes writhed and moaned through their stained and moist gags. The pain went on for a time.
“Stop it!” Darella screamed. The father of the Darkeyes twins looked down at them, with his eyes he apologized for what he was about to do and through the pain started to cast a spell. His wife followed suit, feeling her entrails boil from the inside and her bones tear through her flesh.
With a loud thunder crack and the tone of splintered bone and glass there was a bright light. All of our adventurers felt a pain that they had never experienced, as their bodies were ripped apart piece by piece and those parts halved until the parts could not split any farther. Their consciousness remained active during the duration which made the pain that much more excruciating. As their whole existence was torn from the world they finally faded into nothingness with the sound of Pamalyn’s laughter echoing in their thoughts accompanied only by the screams of the Darkeyes’ parents.

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To What Length Part II
A Witch's Teat, Devils Suckle There.

The party, after a long while of musing over the statue’s riddle gain entry into the ancient subterranean temple. They walk into a large wide and vaulted room with columns. Embedded into the walls were glass encasements containing centuries old specimens of ghastly and antiquated arcane experiments.
“Ahh…welcome.” A voice said from a room directly infront of the party from which a gray light was emitting. Then out stepped a small old woman not wearing much clothes and with wooden legs.
“What do we have here? The little girls who’s parents spent more time pursuing time magic than their own daughters? Did that leave you two damaged at all? Had to grow up faster than you wanted to, one stands in the light and hides her pain the other skulks in the shadows to hide hers.” The witch paced.
“And scoundrel of Al’handra…don’t bring fleas into my temple. You are far from the moon, pup. It is suiting, your parents left you in the wilderness like a diseased mutt, why do you think your father left you?” She laughed.
“The elf who’s mother has more love for someone she’s never met than for her own daughter…and now with an added demon to haunt her. You are almost as fiery as your mother.” The witch stepped towards them.
“And the miner…I hope your new stone body helps you carry the weight of the lives of those 14 dwarves that you carry on your shoulders. Been back home lately?” The witch said this.
“Who are you?! And how do you know who we are?” Screamed Leomourn.
“I am Malifustal, and I know you all because when you enter my land you relinquish your dreams unto me. I rode on each one of your backs during the witching hour and eat your dreams…some of them were more delicious than others.” She said with a smirk.
“Look lady, we were told to come here to get a locket, that you supposedly have, now just kindly hand that over and we’ll leave.” Delgen said.
“Hah, are you working for that little Mind Flayer? He asks you to get a necklace and you just go on a whim? I don’t know why everyone is so afraid of him anyway, he writhes in his sleep like a child. He is haunted more than many I have ridden. His dreams are filled with one called Langston Cavendish.”
“Langston C—” Delgen started.
“—I find it hard to give you anything after you lot trespass into my temple and murder most of my servants, now a trade would be more likely.” The witch said.
“Look we just want the locket.” Said Amarella.
“Give me that shiny little orb of yours and I will give you this locket and all the lockets in the world.” The witch said with a smirk and a laugh.
“Fine!” Leomourn screamed. “Give her the orb.”
“So eager, just like your father. I remember it just like it was yesterday making a deal with your father.”
“Where is my father?” Leomourn asked.
“He is with my sister, at the bottom of the Lake above.”
“You bitch!” Leomourn screamed.
“Leomourn! We can’t let her have the orb!” Amarella said.
“Give it to her and we can get it from her dead body.” Leomourn whispered.
Leomourn grabbed the Godeye and tossed it high in the air towards the hag. He then loosed many arrows in the direction of the hag. There was a battle as the witch loosed evil magic bolts, but eventually the party took the witch down to her knees. During the battle Delgen had stepped back to play a tune on a small flute he carried around his neck, shortly after the ground behind the witch started to rumble and move. Then Molly, Delgen’s bulette burrowed from under the ground and bit the witch’s head and shoulders off. Molly curled into the corner of the room and started chewing on her new dinner.
“Good girl.” Delgen said as he walked over to the body of the witch. He searched her body. He found the locket on her body. As Delgen was searching the body the others looked around the room. Of to one side was a portal, which now within the room they could tell was the source of the grey light. Within a stone arch was a milky portal to a black and white realm. Amalyn pushed on the wall in a certain area, and a door opened.
“This portal must lead to The Gray Wastes.” Delgen said after peering into the portal and rubbing his beard.
“What gave it away? The Gray?” Leomourn asked.
“You wouldn’t understand, a lot of clerical observations and calculations go into correctly identifying one of the nine realms of Hell. I could try to explain but your heathen mind would not handle it if if could even keep up.” Delgen said.
“It was all the gray.” Leomourn said.
“We found something.” Said Darella, whose voice came from down the hidden hall the elf had found with her mystical senses.
“It seems that this is an ancient temple devoted to Anthraxus—” Amalyn said as the two men walked into the hall.
“I knew that.” Delgen said. Amalyn rolled her eyes and continued.
“It seems Kval was a powerful wizard who studied the planes, as you can tell from his desk and books here. His notes tell of his endless obsession with the planes. It also mentions his wife’s suicide. He worked furiously to finish his portal and opened it to The Gray Wastes, the realm of suicides. He went into the portal to go get his wife, and it seems never returned.”
“This seems like his last note, it explains that he was going into the portal to get his wife. It also says that if you are reading it, it means he never came back. It goes on to explain that the portal he constructed will open every seven years for seven days, he says if he could not for one survive let alone find his wife and persuade her to return within the seven days he had, he doubted he would return at all. He asks his friends to pray for his soul and Liurella’s soul. There is a bit about sealing the portal forever and he says there is a scroll that has the spell to do in his chest by his desk.” Darella said.
“I guess he never came back and when the other wizards left this temple it just fell into ruin. I guess this hag found the portal on the other side and has been using it since.” Delgen said.
“Now that we have the locket, we need to find my father. She said he was at the bottom of the lake. We need to find him.” Leomourn said.
“If he is still alive.” Delgen said.
After Darella walked through the portal and came back eyes wide and mouth closed, Amalyn cast the spell to permanently seal the portal and they all walked back out of the temple to the surface.
“How will we go down there.” Leomourn asked.
“Let me.” Delgen asked Amalyn to cast light on a coin, he took it from her hand and walked into the lake. He swam to the center of the lake waved and turned to stone and sunk out of sight.

After a few minutes Delgen walked out of the lake without Haradon and with out the coin. He walked to the rest of the group and said nothing.
“What happened?” Asked Leomourn.
“What is that on your chest!?” Asked Amalyn. Pointing at a large bronze nail that was protruding from Delgen’s chest above his heart. A glowing sigil was carved into the head of the nail.
“There is a second hag down there. Her beast entangled me and pulled me down to the center of the lake. I dropped the coin and when it fell down below me, I saw that there is a whole drowned city down at the bottom of the lake. The beast pulled me in front of one hut, this hut was fenced in by petrified men and elves and animals of all sizes. Within that hut I saw the eyes of men peering from the windows of the hut. There must have been anywhere from twenty to fifty of them, they stared at my longingly full of fear. They were white and rotten from the time underwater. Then the hag swam infront of me and hammered this nail into my chest. She said that it is an ancient magic cast on the nail and that if I remove it I will die, she said if I revert into my flesh form it will burst my heart. She said she would remove the nail and give me your father.” Delgen said without looking up at all.
“Yeah, so where is he?” Leomourn said?
“I have to give her what she wants first.” Delgen said.
“And what is that?” Darella asked.
“She wants me to bring Kayriz, in exchange.” Delgen said.
“Who is Kayriz?” Leomourn said.
“The groom-to-be, he was to marry that elf maiden within the week.” Said Amalyn, looking in the direction of the tent in which they saw the elf walk earlier the other day.
After much debate the group decided to steal away the elf under the oath that they would free him later and the others in the hut. Amalyn cast a silence spell over the elf’s tent, grabbed the boy and took him to the lad to the water, the hag appeared at the surface of the water, she pulled the man down with her after kissing him.
“Come with me if you want what is yours.” The water hag said to Delgen.
Delgen walked into the lake. At the bottom of the lake she pulled the nail from his chest not without pain. She then swam to one of the petrified men in her yard. She kissed the statue of a man, which lifted the stone curse and the man immediately started to drown at the bottom of this drowned city.

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