The Coming of the Zioth
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Book 1

Chapter 1plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigChapter 1: A Chance Meeting in Dunweig (Rewrite of turn 1)

This is a rewrite of Turn 1, and the second revision of this chapter (previous version). I have taken many more liberties with events and dialogue in these rewrites than in the turns, where I never modify dialogue except to correct typos.

It had been a long journey, and there was still a long way to go. It was a month today since

Chapter 2plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigChapter 2: An Anxious Employer (Rewrite of turns 1, 2 and 3)

This is a rewrite of Turn 1, Turn 2 and Turn 3, and the second revision of this chapter (previous version). I have taken many more liberties with events and dialogue in these rewrites than in the turns, where I never modify dialogue except to correct typos.

Ardith, Sahlman and Brinn exchanged the names of the inns where they were staying, and they agreed to meet at the Red Eye Tavern at noon. When they got there, they sat at a table together and ordered food. Soon, Huerten City

Chapter 3plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigChapter 3: Knowing All the Facts (Rewrite of turns 3, 4 and 5)

This is a rewrite of Turn 3, Turn 4 and Turn 5.

Continuing was difficult at first. Ardith and Ziedon could only carry the townsman so far, and they had to stop every minute or so to rest. Brinn was not nearly tall enough to take a corner of the litter. Although Sahlman tried to help, it was obvious that his arm was causing him trouble, and after half an hour, he had to admit that he'd done all he could.

Chapter 4plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigChapter 4: Trouble in Grenzig (Rewrite of turns 5, 6, 7 and 8)

This is a rewrite of Turn 5, Turn 6, Turn 7 and Turn 8.

With Brinn strapped securely to his back, Sahlman climbed the rope. Occasionally Brinn would startle the warrior by jerking his head suddenly and mumbling, as if waking from a dream.

Kay pulled up the rope when Sahl reached the top.

Chapter 5plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigChapter 5: Taking the Town by Force (Rewrite of turns 6, 7 and 8)

This is a rewrite of Turn 6, Turn 7 and Turn 8.

Sahlman heard the whistle. He looked up to the top of the large tree, and then at the townsman. Muttering, he quickly removed his kheffiya and desert robe, and stuffed them into his shoulder bag. His appearance would still be notable, but definitely not so much as it had been.

Chapter 6plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigChapter 6: Balban's Reward (Rewrite of turns 8, 9 and 10)

This is a rewrite of Turn 8, Turn 9 and Turn 10. I have taken many more liberties with events and dialogue in these rewrites than in the turns, where I never modify dialogue except to correct typos.

The morning offered a pitiful view of Grenzig. The doors to public buildings swung free in the wind, some hanging by a single hinge or laying on the ground. Shutters had been smashed, and scattered shards of broken glass were all that remained of once valuable

Book 2

Turn 11plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 11: In the Forest

Feeling better than he had in some time, Sahlman el'Musafir gave his borrowed steed its head. These horses, he thought to himself, are faster and far more comfortable to ride than the camels of my homeland. Following that was another thought. He now felt more concern, more passion, for this place than he did for the place of his birth. That idea rolled back and forth for a bit inside of Sahl's head. In a moment or two, he decided that, while perhaps that fact should bother him, it did not. His h…

Turn 12plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 12: Brininig

“Strange creature,” Kay whispered after the Brining scurried up the tree, “and an even stranger pet.”

Sahlman was amazed at the revelation of the Brinninig. In his desert home, one might find the occasional Dwarf, but the desert variety of Dwarf resembled nothing so much as a short, weather-beaten human. This Brinninig, though: why, there was no resemblance at all between it and a man. And the way it paid him not the slightest bit of attention, even though Sahl must have made enough racket to w…

Turn 13plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 13: An Attempt to Continue

All three adventurers and the townsman's servant were left shocked on the ground. Their clothes were torn in places, and the women's hair was in disarray and full of leaves.

Ardith shook herself off and muttered, “Well, that was interesting. Wonder what that windy voice was all about.

Turn 14plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 14: A Fight with Wolves

Ardith came awake slowly, and smiled when she saw that it was Sahlman's hand on her arm. When he pointed out the wolf-pack, Ardith remembered her dream. She wondered whether she could hide the horses and the members of the party, but decided that it would probably frighten the horses too much.

Turn 15plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 15: Ziedon's Adventure: Through the Fire

This first part was originally posted as “turn 10 supplement” on 11/21/1996.

Ziedon made his way from Grenzig, following the details of the map closely. He walked for days, until he finally came to a small hill. 'How could this be Rakbaven?' Ziedon thought. He checked and rechecked the map. He had seen all the landmarks encapsulated within that sloppy double circle on the map, so this hill, barely thirty feet high, had to be Rakbaven.

Turn 16plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 16: Ziedon's Adventure: Animal Moss

Ziedon opened his eyes and tried to remember why they were shut. 'Everything is white - no, yellow. Now it's green. Yes, green, but blurry. It's becoming clearer. There; something moved. Something big. No, it's gone. It's hot; oh, so hot. Yes, I was just in a fire. But I couldn't feel anything.' He tried to move his arm. 'It hurts, but I can move it.' He felt around. 'Wet. Very wet. Is it raining? No, I'm not outside; I'm in a tunnel. Oh, my head hurts!' He felt his leg: bare skin. Part of his c…

Turn 17plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 17: Ziedon's Adventure: The Maze of Foors

Ziedon continued quickly through the tunnel. None of the other creatures followed him; they kept running about doing whatever they were doing before.

It was only a few minutes before he came to a fork in the tunnel. The left fork went down, and the right headed up. The two were identical in all other respects.

Turn 18plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 18: Ziedon's Adventure: A New Master

The man tossed the stone into the air a few times, and then spoke in a deep voice. “I am the master to whom my two servants guided you. I have been searching the world for those worthy of my guidance, and you alone have passed my tests. You are foolishly brave at times, but you know how to recognize and solve a puzzle you are given. I commend you.

Turn 19plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 19: Ziedon's Adventure: Talking Cats

Ziedon left through the door of the tower, and watched, without much surprise, as the tower collapsed into itself until it was once again a small hill. He made sure the orb his master gave him was secure in its well-padded belt pouch, and began to follow the map.

Turn 20plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 20: A Storm Will Lead the Way

The tale of Ziedon's adventures held Sahlman's full attention. The desert dweller listened in awe to the recounting, his craggy face fully expressing his astonishment at many of the story's details. His mind fairly boggled at the idea of spending so much time under the ground, closed in, surrounded and trapped. 'Agh, this

Turn 21plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 21: Maelbourg

Ziedon looked at the group and their sad state of appearance and made a suggestion. “Perhaps we should find lodgings and cleanse ourselves. Ulan can wait until we are presentable.” Leaning heavily on his staff, he looked around for someone he could ask a question of. The appearance of the group prevented most people from coming near them, but eventually,

Turn 22plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 22: Nothing Gained

Before going to sleep, Ardith invited Kay to join her in prayer to Andritha. The two women prayed together in their room for a few minutes, and then made up their cots with blankets and went to sleep.

In the morning, they came down to the common room and had some bread, cheese, and a hot, sweet drink the bartender offered them that smelled faintly of alcohol.Jackol Worsen

Turn 23plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 23: The Minstrel's Song

Kay listened, enraptured, to the man's singing and playing. It reminded her of the songs of her homeland. She found the man attractive, and wished she could get his attention. Kay's heart went to her throat as the minstrel sat next to her. His presence, even his clean, male odor went to her head.

Turn 24plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 24: The Lost Scroll

Sahlman was furious to the point of distraction over losing the fight, over his soiled garments, and over allowing his weapons to be lost, even temporarily. If that had happened in the desert, he would have been dead. He could not quite comprehend why he was still alive, nor why his plans failed so dreadfully. He was unable to sit and listen to

Turn 25plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 25: Ziedon, the Necromancer

Sahlman was bone weary, winded, beaten and filthy. His attitude was eroded to a dangerous level by the events of the evening. When the strange, shadowy man with his feathers and beads materialized to bring down the fleeing thief, the traveller was nearly unable to remain standing. He wished for nothing so much as to be able to fall to the cobblestones and lie there forever. By main force of will, the desert man did not do so. As he would have done while defending his oasis against marauding raid…

Turn 26plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 26: Kreemon the Ranger

Ardith smiled and turned to the newcomer. “Hail and well met, stranger. I am Ardith, Priestess of Andritha. Thank you for your assistance. How may we thank you?”

The man nodded his head at Ardith, and pulled at his goatee distractedly. “Good morrow to you, priestess. I go by Kreemon Fangly. As for thanks, I would much appreciate word of where I might find employment.

Turn 27plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 27: Korisca the Thief

Sahlman slept the sleep of the dead, and awoke in midst of some vague nightmare hours before dawn. Unable to return to his slumber, he forced himself out of bed, and headed for the bath houses. A good scrubbing of himself and his clothing was just what the he needed. Some time later, a clean

Turn 28plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 28: Townsman Ulan

Korisca stood up and looked at Kreemon. “I suppose I should go take this ... bath, and get new clothes, but I don't know where such places are.”

“Well, I know where the bath house is and can escort you there if you wish. As for clothes ... the market place probably would the best bet. You might even find someone with a cart of second hand clothing you could sort through to see if anything would fit you. I've found a few good bargains doing that. You do have to be careful though. They, the cloth…

Turn 29plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 29: The Message

Kreemon left Korisca at the bathhouse and took a short walk back to the marketplace. The market was not crowded, but it was not empty either. There were many people about, entering and leaving shops, examining the few booths that lined the main road, or just standing and talking to friends. A group of children was playing a game Kreemon did not recognize. Every time a horseman, those few that there were, came by, the children grabbed a few dozen trinkets from the road and ran to the side.

Turn 30plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 30: Questionable Gains

Sahlman stood staring at the townhouse. His mind raced from one to another of the topics currently facing himself and the other members of the small band. Balban's trustworthiness, or lack thereof, was one concern. The day to day matters of survival were another.

Turn 31plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 31: The Last Night in Maelbourg

Ziedon spoke up again, eagerly changing the conversation. “We need to leave immediately.”

“I agree, Sir Mage,” Ardith said. “I do not like the feel of this town, nor of the townsman we have met. Let us provision ourselves from the innkeeper, and be on our way.

Turn 32plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 32: Departure

Ziedon was woken by Sahlman a few hours before dawn. As Sahl arranged himself comfortably on his blanket to sleep through the last watch, Ziedon quietly claimed a corner of the room and sat down.

Ziedon watched over everyone in silence, his eyes frequently returning to the still form of the thief. 'How easy it would be,' he thought, but each time he lowered his hands to boost himself off the floor, he shook his head. 'No, it is too soon.'

Turn 33plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 33: Another Approach

'Not good. No, not good at all,' thought Sahlman as he scrambled for readiness. For a split second, visions flashed before Sahl's eyes: cloaked raiders materializing out of the frigid darkness to tear through a peaceful bedouin camp, black blood bubbling pink and frothy in the wake of his scimitar, screams and wails of despair from the friends and relatives, from the wives and children, of those not strong enough to hold on to that most precious of treasures

Turn 34plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 34: The Townsman's Dilemma

The only emotion Sahlman could solidly identify at that moment was confusion. Perhaps if he had been paying more attention to Ulan, instead of checking all around for Forgolon Deepthroat, he might have been able to better assay what was going on. As it was, nothing was as it seemed, or nothing seemed as it was, one of the two. Either way, Sahl was left shaking his head. He had to look around at the groveling Ulan, just to make doubly certain that it was he, indeed, who was doing the begging. It …

Turn 35plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 35: A Partial Resolution

'Good,' Ardith thought as Ulan signalled his men. She had no desire for an armed conflict, or any other type for that matter.

Ardith's plan was to use Ulan's plight to gain information -- information she desperately wished to have -- about Balban and his motives, how Ulan became Balban's agent in

Turn 36plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 36: New Arrivals

Thrilled as he was by the feel of the magnificent mount beneath him, Sahl's lingering apprehension was instantly reborn as full-blown paranoia. Five more soldiers, plus one on either flank. The warrior transferred the reins to his left hand, then backed his mount a couple of shuffling steps. His eyes kept constant track of the seven men around him. The horse must have sensed his tension, because it was fidgeting and trembling just a bit.

Turn 37plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 37: Ziedon's Day

Listening to the rest of the conversation, Kay giggled at the talkative soldier, then stepped forward as though to speak.

Ardith touched her arm and whispered, “Let's stay out of this for the moment. Ziedon is doing quite well without help. He's getting more information than we have gotten for days. And remember, men in these parts find it strange enough for women to be armed, never mind that they take part in _their_ conversation.

Book 3

Turn 38plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 38: Dunweig

Korisca appeared from behind a large tree, but remained as unnoticeable as possible. She had trouble comprehending the recent events. A few days before, she was an unrecognized lowlife in Maelbourg, and this day she had dealt with a townsman. Then, her primary enemy, who could deal out the ancient powers like a deck full of aces, left with little explanation. She had no idea what was going on, but with

Turn 39plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 39: Ranes's

“Tolls for bridges, tolls to enter the town, what'll be next, a toll to use the facilities?” Kreemon muttered.

“Animals are permitted on the main roads only. We try to keep the town clean,” the guard said as they passed the gateway.

Each lantern in the town shone as a streaked globe through the fog, barely providing enough light to walk by. The first hazy building they saw gave itself away as an inn by its height and shape, and the amount of light emanating from a particular room.

Turn 40plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 40: The Healer

Ardith pushed open the doors, followed a narrow hallway, pushed open another set of doors, and entered into the sanctuary, which was, at the moment, empty. It seemed that most of the building was sanctuary. Its ceiling was as high as the rooftop, and narrow windows began ten feet above the floor, and extended twenty more toward the heavens. Spaced out on the walls was a series of once-gilt Signs of the Healer, in addition to smaller symbols of

Turn 41plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 41: A Week in Dunweig

The white and red cloth slipped out of the healer's aged hand, and fell to the floor. The healer's eyes widened ever so slightly, before they resumed their normal shape. “Clumsy old fingers,” he said. “Clean that up.” One of the apprentices, his eyes still on the man's leg, peeled the cloth off the floor, and with it wiped up as much of the red cream as he could.

Turn 42plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 42: The Butcher Moren

Kreemon bent down and touched the butcher's cheek with the back of his hand. Moren radiated an almost unnatural cold, as if he had just come in from bad snowstorm. He was most definitely dead.

“Who can tell me what happened here?” Kreemon asked of the crowd. No one volunteered an answer.

Turn 43plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 43: Master Johannes Eltermann

The inn was filling up with fishermen, who spoke mainly of their extraordinary catches that day. Moren's name flowed around the room as well, as each table of eavesdroppers passed it on to the next.

“Priestess!” Ardith was startled to find Ranes several steps in front of her, looking up at her face with a nervous smile as he walked.

Turn 44plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 44: The Investigation Begins

“Ardith.”

A voice.

“Come here.”

Ardith looked for the source of the voice, and saw nothing. She looked for anything at all, and saw nothing. She looked for darkness, and could not find even that. Ardith screamed and woke up.

The butcher's skin had taken on a color normal for a corpse by the time it was moved to the watching room for the night. By morning, the watching apprentice had nothing to say about it. As was the tradition in

Turn 45plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 45: The Temple of the Orithory

Ranes' was filling with lunchtime customers, who still spoke quite a bit about the butcher, although not near as much as the day before.

“Something strange is going on at the Temple,” said the deep, throaty voice voice a man behind a wooden pillar.

Turn 46plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 46: A Scene of Death

Kreemon broke through the crowd, drawing his sword again as he rushed the door. He slowed enough to try the doorknob, but nevertheless crashed into the door with the momentum of his run, causing it to squeak and crack. The door was locked, but gave easily at a second rush.

Turn 47plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 47: Johannes' Breakdown

Around Ardith's hand, the bruises subsided, until there were only a few blue lines winding through otherwise healthy-looking skin. The man took one wheezing, shuddering breath, and let it out slowly. His chest hardened as the splinters of bone fused together. His eyes flickered open but then closed tight, and his breathing was once again a slow, trickling wind.

Turn 48plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 48: The Healer and the Temple

Four men entered Rosteral's house, apparently having been asked inside. Ardith, just ready to leave, sat back down and signaled the serving wench for a refill of all their drinks. “Let's just stay and watch a while,” she murmured.

Kay grinned, halfway out of her chair, and said,

Turn 49plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 49: A Dark Man, a Shadow

“No, not there! Please, slow down! I don't care what freedoms you've had elsewhere; you can not behave this way in a temple of Andritha! And I already told you, that animal must be sent back up to wait outside! Wait!”

Kreemon stopped suddenly, and glared at the priest.

Turn 50plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 50: A Night to be Forgotten

This time the priest led them in his own fashion, quietly and slowly. There was no attempt by Kreemon or Johannes to rush past him and hurry things up. When they got outside, Ardith was more surprised than the others to see how much time had passed. The sun was already half concealed by the western wall of

Turn 51plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 51: An Eventful Departure

Unusual for her, as Ardith was one of those who woke up ready for anything, she sleepily went through her morning ablutions, woke up Kay, said her morning prayers, then, checking to see if Kay was actually up, thought about their mission and getting on with it. They'd been in this town long enough, she thought.

Turn 52plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 52: Korisca's Story

Ardith was overcome with dismay that the events in the guardhouse had led to bloodshed, but they had happened so fast that there had been nothing she could do. Not that she was unaccustomed to or abhorrent of bloodshed, but that it had seemed so unnecessary. She also wondered why both

Turn 53plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 53: Johannes's Vision (Johannes only)

DM's Introduction

Johannes woke early on the chilly morning of the eleventh of Farinon. He hugged his arms to his breast, trying to rid himself of a lingering chill. Something didn't feel right, so he lifted his hands and looked them over. They were dirty and scarred, but narrow and light. They were a woman's hands. He took those strange hands and felt up and down his body, but somehow was not shocked at what he found. He was

Turn 54plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 54: Osander River Village

Johannes shook his head slightly, trying to calm his mind, struggling to sort out that which he heard from the strange vision he had seen. “So this former companion of yours was performing odd experiments on sheep... the fact that he caused the bones of that sheep to bend

Turn 55plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 55: The magic of Osander River Village

Johannes saw the light flicker, and a crash of thunder miles away, but otherwise he was unaware of Ardith's attempts to wake him; the farmer was in the way. His wife and seven children, ranging in age from two to around fifteen, stood inside, staring in much the same way the farmer had.

Turn 56plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 56: Discovery by Night (Johannes only)

Johannes felt a tap on his shoulder. It was dark, and the floor he was lying on was cold. Another vision? No, Lutont was bending low over him, close enough that he could see the man's face in the dim light of the dying fire. Lutont gestured to the door, and put his fingers to his lips. The others were still sleeping.

Turn 57plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 57: Rielicca's Accusations

It was still dark when the group, one by one, woke to the sound of muffled conversations outside. Lutont and Johannes were already sitting by the door, eating some kind of hot wheat mush, when Kreemon got up. “They're waiting for all of you to come out,”

Turn 58plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 58: The Journey to Huerten

As soon as their escort turned back to Osander River Village, the party mounted their horses and rode on toward Huerten. The sky was clear and bright, what was visible through the trees, and well before noon, the snow melted. The air was still cold though, and smelled of a winter that was more than a month off.

Turn 59plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 59: Kreemon and the Second Clerk (Kreemon only)

Kreemon headed for the Baron's keep, making a few subtle inquiries along the way about the patrols outside the city. He asked several people, but soon realized that neither the patrols nor the group they sought were common knowledge. That pursuit at an end, he began to formulate a plan for how he would deal with the message.

Turn 60plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 60: Tracking Kreemon (Ardith, Kay, Sahlman and Johannes only)

As the inn's door swung behind Kreemon and Bork, Ardith said, “I like this not. Kreemon was all too eager to take the scroll, and to confront the baron. Not that I have any reason to suspect foul play by Kreemon, quite the opposite, but... well, something stinks here.

Turn 61plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 61: Inside the Walls

Kay saw that Bork had seen her, and probably Kreemon also. She did not know what to make of the tableau she had witnessed, so she hastily, but still as quietly as possible, retreated back to where Ardith waited.

She reported to her friend in hasty whispers.

Turn 62plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 62: Below the Castle

Kreemon kept his hand on the slippery wall, and followed it wherever it led. After only a few feet, he hit his head against stone and learned that the passage became only four feet high. When the grate began to slide open, Kreemon signaled the others to duck into the passage and hurried on.

Turn 63plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 63: The Swim to Shore

“Move to the sides,” Kreemon whispered. “Keep going forward.” He stopped briefly to check the water level before following his own advice. The water was getting deeper. In the center, it now reached up to the base of Kreemon's middle finger, when before it was only two knuckles deep. Either the water was rising, or the passage was sloping downward. Another minute of running and the water was ankle-deep, even on the edges, and at least a food deep in the middle.

Turn 64plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 64: Sahlman's Adventure: Ulan's Soldiers

The first three paragraphs were originally posted as “Turn 37 Supplement,” on 8/31/98.

“HA!” Sahlman let out with a loud cry to his restless steed, leading the other three men back toward Maelbourg. At the next possible chance, Sahl would cut back on a different road toward Grenzig. He didn't know what

Turn 65plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 65: Sahlman's Adventure: The Brininig

In moments, Sahl's darting glance had traversed the three hundred sixty degrees of terrain that surrounded him, hoping against hope that he would catch a glimpse of the second soldier, hoping that he would not discover the man just preparing to slide a blade through the weathered brown skin of his torso. As he performed this automatic function of viewing his environment, Sahl spoke,

Turn 66plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 66: Sahlman's Adventure: A Farmer's Trap

Sahlman rose before dawn, more than ready to get moving. Snow had stopped accumulating shortly after dusk, so there was only half an inch on the ground, not even enough to scrape up for drinking water.

Sahl was on his way within fifteen minutes, eager to move again. All three horses had survived the night, but they had to be walked for hours before their legs had fully thawed. The morning remained cold, but the snow was melting by noon, and it became much easier to travel despite the dampness …

Turn 67plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 67: Sahlman's Adventure: The state of Maelbourg

Half a mile from the perimeter of Maelbourg, Sahlman turned to Forgolon. “This is dangerous work. We must talk now. I tell you, what I want is for my friends to be free and not work for bad men. This is all I want. You tell me now. Who is lord of Maelbourg now? Who put my friends in jail? Why they in jail? What you want from me?

Turn 68plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 68: Sahlman's Adventure: A Clumsy Stalker

A few miles from Maelbourg, Sahlman slowed down to a quick walk. As soon as he did so, he thought he heard a second set of distant hoof beats behind him, but then they died down until all he could hear was the forest sounds, and Zephyr's hooves on pine needles and newly fallen autumn leaves.

Turn 69plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 69: Sahlman's Adventure: The Murderer of Dunweig

Before dawn, the pair packed up, ate a brief breakfast and were on their way. The sky was clear and the weather was warming up, and a pleasant breeze blew between the trees. Shortly after noon, Sahlman spotted the Black Lake in the distance. Hebabelt explained that its name came from its dark sands and thick under-water growth, and that it was known to catch foreigners and even the occasional local by surprise in the night. More than one person had fallen into the water before noticing it was th…

Turn 70plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 70: Sahlman's Adventure: Kgeih

Sahlman spent the night at the inn. When dawn came and Hebabelt didn't, he left a note with Ranes, saying that he would be following Ardith to Huerten. He rode off at first light.

The guards at the gate were not nearly so friendly as they'd been on the way in. They questioned Sahl for over an hour, asking about his current destination and his previous travels, making him account for each of his weapons and every item in his saddle bags, and they even sent a runner to Ranes' to verify that Sahl…

Turn 71plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 71: Sahlman's Adventure: Searching for Ardith

The knights didn't give Sahlman much time to sleep. They woke him well before dawn with, “there's no time to waste!” and pushed their horses hard through the morning. In the following hours, they passed three more patrols, and only a few other travelers, who avoided the knights. It seemed that every town Sahl visited lately had undergone some recent change that made it act differently towards visitors. Dmerzig and Grenzig had been conquered,

Turn 72plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 72: The Return of Sahlman

When Sahl woke, the door was closed. He had a headache, and he thought he felt a trickle of blood coming from somewhere on his head. Ardith was kneeling over him. Her words faded into his consciousness. “I'm so sorry, Sahl. I didn't know who you were until it was too late.

Turn 73plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 73: The Zahiran (Kreemon only)

Kreemon dragged himself to shore a couple hundred feet from Ardith and Kay, away from the docks and any ships, and lay panting on the sand. He relaxed for only a few minutes to catch his breath, and then slowly and unsteadily rose to his feet. Despite the intense chill it sent up and down his spine, he put on his wet shirt and then headed into town, towards the house that he'd found earlier, with the special symbol.

Turn 74plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 74: Kreemon and Sahlman

Sahl reacted urgently to Kreemon's voice. Rolling to his feet, he called out, “Please let him in Brunner! I need to talk to this man.” He hastily walked to the door. “Hello Kreemon, I have been hearing bad things about you.” Kreemon had changed his appearance much as Sahl had changed his, though Kreemon no doubt had done it for more desperate reasons. His goatee was gone, and his hair now hung loose. His clothes were changed, and he wore a long hooded cloak. Without the facial hair, the prominen…

Turn 75plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 75: Johannes's Adventure: The Destruction of a Mob

Johannes trudged away from the others, shaking his head slowly and muttering. “That Kreemon is a madman. I don't know why his companions tolerate him.” He emitted a long sigh, and made his way over the crest of the hill, towards Mindolpha's hovel.

The rising sun added nothing to the hovel that it didn't quickly take away. Even the walls were in poor repair, and it seemed like masses of caulk and tar used in haphazard repairs were all that held them together. The half of the roof that had not c…

Turn 76plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 76: Johannes's Adventure: Attacked in the Forest

Johannes's watch was punctuated by brief flashes that he had difficulty understanding. A woman appeared and disappeared. Then an older woman. Then he was the older woman. Then he saw a boy, then a rabbit, and then a tree. A large man pulling a small plow. Two men fighting on a sandy beach that sparkled with ice crystals. The silhouette of a huge bird flying across a full-moon

Turn 77plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 77: Johannes's Adventure: A Burning Cat

Johannes woke to the light of the sun and the sound of Mineasia's playful voice. She was not at all surprised to find Johannes in a bedroll with her mother, and seemed to have completely forgotten the frightening experiences of the previous night. “Can I ride Roomis again?

Turn 78plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 78: Johannes's Adventure: Escaping to Brundash

“There's a tunnel! A tunnel underneath the town. And they were teaching sorcerers under there... and... the experiments... how long ago?” He clutched at his head, paralyzed by blinding pain. “It hurts! Oh, by my god, it hurts!” He struggled to pull himself upright, tears forming at the corners of his eyes.

Turn 79plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 79: Johannes's Adventure: Return Home

Johannes blinked slowly, adjusting to the sudden change to where he was -- or where he thought he was. “What happened?” He spoke slowly. “I don't remember anything of what happened...”

“Master Steiner -- Karl -- found you in a village in northern Huerten. You were delirious the whole way, even though Karl hired what passes for medicine in those parts along the way. That was months ago, and then when you got here, you were

Turn 80plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 80: Johannes's Adventure: A New Vision

Rebekah was waiting for Johannes when he came home, and she had a worried look on her face. “You're back so early. Did everything go okay with the Coordinator?”

Johannes sighed, sinking into a chair in the sitting room. “I am not sure I can even trust my own mind any more. I don't know what is happening to me

Turn 81plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 81: Johannes's Adventure: Uyithlyaw

“Uyithlyaw?... So I have arrived...” Johannes sat up, blinking, attempting to take in his surroundings and orient himself. “I was wandering in dreams. I had thought I had returned to Duerstadt...” He shook his head. “What has been happening to me? Have I been going mad?

Turn 82plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 82: Johannes's Adventure: The Knights of Huerten

Mindolpha led the way back to the Maelbourg-Huerten road. Based on the angle they took, Johannes realized that Uyithlyaw's home was in Marchhanbar, a politically insignificant barony surrounded on three sides by the barony of Huerten. They continued through the woods for the rest of the day, cutting in at a sharp angle relative to the road, and made camp when it started to get dark.

Turn 83plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 83: Johannes and Sahlman

Additional text was added on 7/17/05

Sahl returned to Sir F's to sleep. He thought he heard muted footsteps behind him, but when he turned around to look, no one was there. When he arrived, the door was locked. He knocked a few times, and heard the innkeeper say,

Turn 84plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 84: Waiting for the Trial

The next day went without a hitch. Johannes escorted Ardith from Felender's house to the Office of the Corporal of the Central North District, while Sahlman followed at a distance in case there was any trouble. From there, the corporal himself brought Ardith and Johannes to the Offices of the Captain of the Guard, a few hundred feet from the castle gates, and from there they were taken to see the Second Clerk.

Turn 85plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 85: The Zioth Expert

Every morning, Redbelve passed the time with Sahl while he was training his horse. After a few hours of training on the twenty-fifth, he mentioned that Sahl could meet the Zioth-expert that evening. Evening came, and Redbelve took Sahlman and Johannes to see his friend. The scholar lived alone in one of the poorer neighborhoods, the entranceway to his small home serving as a workplace for himself and two other scriveners. Various religious texts, not all of them

Turn 86plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 86: Preparing for the Winter Fair

On the twenty-seventh, Sahl went out alone to train Zephyr. Mindolpha had been more trouble than usual during the night, and Johannes was sleeping late. As usual, Redbelve stopped by to give him a few pointers. In the afternoon, Sahl took a stroll around the city, working through his plans for preparing for the Zioth. Late in the afternoon, he found himself near a small cemetery which looked like it had been filled up a long time ago. There weren't a lot of people around

Book 4

Turn 87plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 87: The Winter Fair and Festival

Sahlman, Kay and Johannes had all grown up in large cities, but the Huerten Winter Fair and Festival was no less impressive for it. The castle was the gloriously decorated centerpiece, with banners, flags, and trumpeters playing fanfare on the hour for no reason other than to impress. Knights, dressed in their clumsy formal armor, engaged in mock jousts before cheering crowds. Normally, the castle was surrounded by large open areas. These areas now served as the core of the Fair, and were anythi…

Turn 88plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 88: Uyithlyaw's Prophecy

The heavy heat of the morning became more oppressive as the day wore on, then it slacked off, and by evening was replaced by a thickening fog. The Winter Fair and Festival went on. As stands and shops closed, people and their money moved inside, where all manner of entertainment could be found. Sir Jerenil's First Knight and the baron's Trader's Lodge, of course, had the best, and both had hired people to act like patrons of the competitor and then shout out things like,

Turn 89plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 89: Dealing with Disaster

Things were far from easy for Johannes and the others in Sir Jerenil's. Merely taking orders and organizing the barmaids in such a crowded inn were almost overwhelming tasks. Add in tending to the injured, resolving disputes about chairs, tables and rooms and dissipating fights, and the three of them, even with

Turn 90plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 90: The Rift

The rising sun illuminated a new Huerten. Fog burned away to reveal destruction unimagined the night before. What had been gaudily decorated streets were now piles of rubble, where not one house in two still stood. What had been packed fairgrounds were now a chaos of wood and canvas.

Turn 91plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 91: The Creatures of the Rift

Sahlman felt a sharp tug on the rope. From the darkness where Daluar had vanished from sight came a muffled gasp and the 'shing' of a rapier being drawn. Then the rope went slack, followed by an unpleasant thump. For an instant, Sahlman feared the worst, but the hurried shuffling noises and twitching of the rope indicated that

Turn 92plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 92: Meeting the Baron

It was well into the afternoon when the dragged themselves over the lip of the rim and into the light. Most of the villagers had gone, but the dozen or so who remained watched the explorers with awe. That was hardly surprising. Besides the weapons, which by themselves would keep most people at bay, everyone but

Turn 93plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 93: The Zioth Institute

Sahl thanked the guards after reading the baron's note and signing for the money. He then turned to the party. “In a sense, this belongs to us all -- that's Kay, Ardith, myself and Daluar, for services we have performed during the quake and in exploring the rift. But more than that, the Baron expects us to use it to fund our explorations of the Zioth. I assume that all of us want to do this?

Turn 94plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 94: The Battle of the Rift

The soldiers of Huerten didn't doubt the sh'kurdaru now. Suddenly, they were all cooperative, all polite, and, despite years of training in organized teams, they were desperate for leadership from someone who understood this strange threat.

With the torches blown out, and bonfires billowing up clouds of smoke, this was more than the soldiers and

Turn 95plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 95: New Blood

The night dragged on and on. It was dawn before Daluar and the soldiers were coming to the end of their task. More tired than they'd ever been before, they carried net after net full of Sh'kurdaru heads to the Rift. The entire force of Huerten, save the knights, some of whom were just now arriving to see what was left, was in a state of utter exhaustion.

Turn 96plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 96: The Captain of the Guard

“Salangin -- is that how you pronounce it?” Jereld, captain of the Baron's Guard, stopped Daluar just as he was leaving through the path of rubble that had once been the courtyard gate. His pronunciation was wrong, but he didn't give Daluar a chance to correct him.

Turn 97plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 97: Into the Depths

The next two days were taken up with preparations. Sahl discussed the requirements for the crossbows with the castle weaponsmith. Then he went to a potter in town and demanded a batch of ceramic bolts in the Baron's name. The bolts would be filled with and sealed against disteloitte. They would be cylindrical, balanced in the center, around once inch thick by four inches long, and have fins at the end to stabilize them. When the bolts were ready,

Turn 98plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 98: The People of the Rift

“This is not what I signed up for,” said Oloic.

“Yes it is,” Nerror, the other soldier, replied. “Shut up.”

Both soldiers, along with the mountaineers Teulen and Ker, and the original party of Sahlman, Daluar, Ardith and Kay, looked out at the expanse of

Turn 99plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 99: The High Baraderres

Ardith had had little luck. The creatures were willing to accept her, but as far as communication went, she was starting to think them incapable. They could point and gesture, but they quickly tired of the game and wandered off to eat, drink, sleep or mate. Sometimes, they seemed more like herd animals that humans. Their aversion to the sealed entrance just reinforced the idea.

Turn 100plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 100: A Disappointing Conclusion (The game fell apart at this point, so this story line has come to an end. Read on for Ziedon's adventure!)

Teulen, Ker and Daluar spent the next couple hours scouting the halls for sh'kurdaru. What they found was promising in some ways, at least. Adult sh'kurdaru came through this area only rarely, perhaps once in half an hour at most. The downside was that they weren't part of a regular patrol, so their comings and goings would be unpredictable. If they moved quickly and quietly, they could get from the low baraderres' area to the shaft leading up to the high baraderres in about fifteen minutes. Doi…

Book 5

Turn 101plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 101: A Mission from Rakbaven

This first part was originally posted as Turn 37z, on 8/31/98

Ziedon, days before, had made sure to memorize useful parts of Ardith's map. When he was sufficiently distant from his party, he placed his own two unremarkable maps on the ground, and placed an “

Turn 102plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 102: Settling in Dunweig

Gathering himself, Ziedon headed south, glad to be out of the tower and away from his impossible Master. He thought of the creatures he had met the last time he left the tower, and kept his eyes wary of them, but throughout the journey, they did not appear.

Turn 103plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 103: The Butcher Moren

The butcher opened his eyes wide, as if realizing his own mortality for the first time, and then looked down at the ground, accepting it. “Yes, I am Moren.”

Ziedon clapped his hands in glee. “Wonderful. I bring a message for you.” He spent a long minute reciting the magical words written as with chalk in his mind. Once

Turn 104plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 104: Sheep

“So, how'd it go with the apothecary?” Dalast put his food on Ziedon's table, and pulled up a chair. Ziedon frowned. “I never made it there. I realized that I must have looked a fright with my unkept beard and hair so I sought the services of a barber. Afterwards, I was still tired from my journey, so I returned for some lunch and a nap. I do feel quite refreshed. Mayhaps I will make it there on the morrow. I intend to enjoy myself this eve, seeing what this fine town has to offer me.

Turn 105plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 105: Moren's Book

Ziedon left the sheep behind him to persue the intruder. He chanted the spell again as he ran, targeting the interloper's heart, but by the time he finished his incantation, the person was too far for it to take its proper effect. She did feel something, because

Turn 106plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 106: Rosteral

The bathouses were not on the main crossroads of the town, but they were still easy to find. They were as close to the lake as they could be without too much threat from storm, and a portion of the town's wall rose up around that part of the lake to deter flood waters. The bathhouses were no more than half a mile's distance from the butcher, and an eighth from the inn

Turn 107plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 107: Creating Rumors

Ziedon moved behind the bathhouse and then, taking extreme care not to be seen, continued to the next building. Pausing there, Ziedon cut the hem of his robe and bandaged his wound. He cut more slices of cloth from the robe, soaked them in water from his waterskin, and used them to clean himself up.

Turn 108plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 108: The Seven Question Dream

Ziedon woke to sunlight on his face. He had slept a long time. Stretching and blinking his eyes, Ziedon thought, “That is what I needed. Ah..” As he swung his feet onto the floor, a sharp, reverberating pain reminded him that his wound would be a long time healing. Fortunately, it was not infected yet, and the edges were beginning to crust over, but the bandage was still damp with blood.

Turn 109plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 109: The Other Galpen

In the morning, Ziedon prepared his spells, then took out Moren's book, and looked at it reflectively as he thought about his dream. Ziedon was not normally one to remember his dreams, and now he'd had one two nights in a row. The previous night, someone had been questioning him. Obviously there was something deeper going on underneath the currents than was immediately visible.

Turn 110plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 110: Preparing an Assassination

Ziedon pledged the next couple of days to prepare for his assassination of Bure. He immediately took Galpen up on his offer, and followed him to the house and shop of an upper-class tailor. With Galpen by his side, Ziedon was able to acquire a suit of clothing that would make some of the lesser townsmen jealous, for under half its value. It still cost him fifteen gold attles, which ate a good bit into the money that Galpen had offered.

Turn 111plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 111: Caught

The next morning, Ziedon realized things would not be as easy as he'd thought. As well as any satirist could have predicted, the town guard patrolled the streets in force, now that a wealthy merchant had been murdered in his own shop. News of Weg's messenger paled in comparison, to the point where

Turn 112plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 112: Hebabelt Forester

His horse was untouched and had been treated well, and the new saddle was still leaning against the wall. Ziedon mounted, and rode until he just out of sight of the west gate, then dismounted. Wearing his old robes and equipped with his staff, Ziedon led his horse towards the gate.

Turn 113plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 113: Dragged into Maelbourg

Ziedon made his journey a casual one. He did not want to arrive in Maelbourg saddle sore, tired and dirty, or with a crippled horse. Soon after setting out, he found a moving stream and unloaded his bloody clothing. There was no need to risk being caught with that.

Turn 114plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 114: Townsman Galgewe

“So Ziedon, I see you caused Townsman Ulfendol quite a bit of trouble.” When Ziedon opened his eyes, he saw Galgewe, standing tall, hands clasped behind his back. It was a bit hard to make out his features. When Ziedon opened his eyes wider and shook out the blur of sleep, he saw the reason. He was in a jail cell, securely locked, with metal bars reaching to the ceiling, and attached at their base to a half-wall of stone.

Turn 115plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 115: Working for a Townsman

Ziedon was escorted out of the jail, to be taken to the nearby Purple Raven. His damaged clothes were brought elsewhere to be mended. Two of the three men who walked with Ziedon were common thugs, hired for strength rather than agility. They wore standard uniforms, consisting of leather armor, longsword, light crossbow and dagger, along with narrow-rimmed hats and a short black ribbon. The third man, doubtless the leader, was lighter than the others, but certainly looked like he could hold his o…

Turn 116plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 116: The State of Maelbourg

An hour or so after the tailor left, a messenger arrived with an unsigned letter from Galgewe: I will not be able to visit you myself tonight due to prior engagements, so I will answer some of your questions here. Please destroy this message when you have comitted it to memory. If you forget, its ink is designed to fade within a day or two.

You asked for descriptions of the major players in town, so here they are. The number following each name is an indication of power and influence. There a…

Turn 117plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 117: Jerrakken

Ziedon slept deeply, and did not wake until fairly late in the morning. The rest of the materials for the summoning spell and the priming of the paper were on the desk, though some of the summoning materials were not _quite_ right. The spell would probably work anyway.

Turn 118plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 118: Ulan's Allies and Balban's Enemies

Ferenz's tavern had nothing like the lush accomodations of the Purple Raven. Leaving his escort outside, Ziedon entered a dusty, low- ceilinged room much wider than it was deep. While the poorest laborers of Maelbourg couldn't afford tavern food, the men assembled for lunch today were not much better off.

Turn 119plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 119: Townsman Silnquost

Tilluri and Gelefer brought Ziedon across town to a far wealthier neighborhood. They arrived in front of a small building that Ziedon's map described as the Guild Tradehouse. Guilds used the building to arrange major trade agreements with each other and with neighboring towns, and some of the more important guild masters had private offices inside. The place was built like a fortress, with thick stone walls, heavy iron-bound doors and windows built small enough and high enough that even a practi…

Turn 120plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 120: Velirra Dufowl, a Bad Omen

As they walked to the tavern, Ziedon felt an inexplicable tinge of nervousness, as if he was being followed. He looked back frequently, but could see nothing out of the ordinary. Then, just outside the tavern, a wave of fear washed over him. He stopped, unsure whether to hide or run, and then it passed.

Turn 121plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 121: A Rap on the Shutters

Late in the night, Ziedon was woken by a rap on his shutters. Thinking it was the wind, he dozed off, but the fourth time it happened, he got up and separated them. The bird stumbled a bit and landed on the outside window sill, peering in. A moment later, there was a knock on his door.

Turn 122plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 122: Hewlard and Duddan

“You called me.”

Ziedon rolled over in his bed, ignoring the dream.

“You called me. Why?”

He was tired. How much sleep could he have gotten? Three hours? Four?

“You called me. Why?”

Ziedon opened his eyes a crack. The sun had risen only recently, and it was cold. The bird was perched on the highest shelf above the desk, staring at him with interest. It was also squawking annoyingly.

Turn 123plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 123: G is Catching On

Once the guards left his room, Ziedon bolted the door and sat in thought. Making a decision, he sent out a summons to his familiar, calling it back to him with all haste. While he waited, he took one of his pouches and padded the inside with extra cloth. He then removed the skulls from the two mouse skeletons and put them in the pouch, with more cloth between them. He hefted the pouch in its hand, tied it to his belt and walked around normally for a bit to make sure that the padding was sufficie…

Turn 124plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 124: The Public Guildhouse

He'd planned to capture Galgewe, tie him up, take that pesky amulet away and enchant him so many times he'd forget his own name if Ziedon had asked him to. It would have been nothing to take Galgewe's power from him and send him away. He might have even had a little “

Turn 125plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 125: Commanding the Guards

Townsman Silnquost didn't show up the next day, and the only news Ziedon got of the outside world was from a conversation he overheard when his guard was changed.

“So what's going on outside?”

“It's nuts out there. The priests are out.”

“What?”

Turn 126plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 126: A Demostration of Power

It was two hours before Townsman Silnquost arrived. Three guards entered with him and positioned themselves around Ziedon. These were not the same three who had pinned Ziedon before; they looked stronger, better trained, wore different uniforms and bore higher-quality arms, the type one would expect to be with a man of

Turn 127plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 127: Recconoisance

Townsman Silnquost had promised information; Ziedon was hardly surprised when it didn't come. He was a prisoner here, however the townsman had sugar-coated it. But then again, waiting around for a few days couldn't hurt, especially if he really was a hunted man outside this building. He could escape when he needed to.

Book 6

Turn 128plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 128: A Friend

Kreemon left the fisherman's house thinking about Sahlman. The warrior was loyal to the two women, and wanted to serve this city. Both facts could be dangerous. Sahl could try to clear their names and earn a reward by turning Kreemon in.... Since he left first, Kreemon moved quickly off to the alley where he'd hid before, and waited. When Sahl left, Kreemon followed him all the way back to Sir F's, where he knocked on the door.

Turn 129plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 129: Korisca's Help

Kreemon spent the next few days caring for his wounds and Bork's, exercising as best he could in the cramped quarters, and spending a lot of time in meditation with Bork and in prayer. He asked Rheideielle to purchase him some new clothing so he could change his appearance, as well as some rations and equipment for when he left town. He supplied the funds.

Turn 130plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 130: A Changing Year

As soon as Kreemon left Rheideielle's house, a sense of peace washed over him. It was good to feel the open air, even if the make-up gave it a greasy feel.

The morning snow had become a heavy heat, which by evening, had given way to a thickening fog. This was both good and bad for Kreemon's chances of getting out that night. He'd be harder to recognize through the fog, but there would be fewer people coming and going, so the guards would be more alert.

Turn 131plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 131: The Shortest Path

It was the second night since they'd left the city. Fallen trees and broken segments of road had become common sights during the past days, showing that whatever had happened was more widespread than it had seemed initially. There were even a few cracks in the ground, though nothing nearly so vast as the great rift outside of Huerten. Just half a dozen feet or so deep, most of them.

Turn 132plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 132: Springing Ziedon

Maelbourg was well known for being a musical town, but Forgolon was a level above the rest. His mandolin never played a sour note. His fingers never missed a beat. And his voice was so flawlessly controlled, filling the crowded room so expertly, that even tonedeaf

Book 7

Turn 133plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 133: The Disappearing Trick

“Ziedon,” Kreemon said, “It is us. Korisca and Kreemon.” He chuckled. “We have come to rescue you.”

“Hi, Ziedon,” Korisca said. Strangely enough, she seemed perfectly calm in the presence of the man she'd feared for weeks.

Kreemon glanced at the desk before refocusing his attention on the door.

Turn 134plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 134: Korisca's Claim to Townsmanship

In the morning, Ziedon gave Korisca some money. “I am famished,” he said. “Would you please be a dear and go get us something warm and filling to eat? You could also see if there are any rumors about last night, or any news. In the meantime, I need to review some of my notes. Please do not disturb me.

Turn 135plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 135: The Northern Gate

After Forgolon left, Ziedon called Tah'iera to him. Within moments, the strange bird landed on the window sill. “Please follow the man who just left,” Ziedon said. “Let me know where he goes.”

After Tah'iera flew off, Ziedon said, “Korisca, Kreemon. I don't know how long this transition period is going to take. I would very much like to get my necklace back from

Turn 136plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 136: Desecrating the House

In the morning, Ziedon woke up to an icy breeze -- again -- and lashed out. “Who keeps opening that damned window? I was freezing all night long.”

Kreemon stood up and stretched. “Sorry. I like the fresh air.”

“Well bloody hell. I am not going to be much use to anyone if I catch a cold, now am I? And what about

Turn 137plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 137: Digging up Galgewe

Kreemon and Korisca left a quarter of an hour after Ziedon, shovels strapped to their backs. Korisca led Kreemon through back streets, taking a different route than they had the day before, to get to the old North Gate.

Four priests were standing in clear view around the Temple of

Turn 138plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 138: The Hidden Army

The invisible mist wafted through the corridors, passing priests and parishioners without their knowledge, but it moved slowly, like a light breeze with direction and purpose.

The mist passed through corridor after corridor, then through the reading rooms, and into the great entrance hall of

Turn 139plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 139: The Transformation

Ziedon woke once again to a stiff breeze. He had fallen asleep sitting up, but now he was lying on the hard floor, his cloak wrapped tightly around him. He glared at the open window, working life back into his fingers. The sooner they could get to that boarding house, the better. Kreemon could have the room without the fireplace. Let him freeze as much as he wanted.

Turn 140plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 140: Interrogating a Spy

When the man faded back into visibility next to him, Ziedon took his belt pouch and looked inside. There were only a few coins, which made sense given the man's common appearance. There was nothing to indicate who he was or where he was from.

Ziedon tied the man's hands behind his back, tied his feet together, and gagged him with a strip of cloth from his shirt. Then he searched his body thoroughly, even to the point of looking in his shoes and under his shirt. Other than a dagger that looked …

Turn 141plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 141: The Merchant from the Eastern Kingdoms

Ziedon made it to the Silver Sign unmolested. He received a few funny looks from passers-by, and a member of the town guard followed him for a short time, but he was otherwise left alone. The tavern and boarding house was easy to find. The rusty iron Sign of

Turn 142plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 142: The Battle of the Magics

Ziedon sucked in a deep breath of air. His fingers moved nimbly in the motions of a spell as he replied in a cold tone, “For your transgressions, my wrath with shake the earth and blot out the sky! My friends will defend me against your evil!”

“Your devious tongue will only enhance your suffering,

Turn 143plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 143: The Song of Destruction

Kreemon woke up hurting all over. He lifted himself slowly, only realizing he was lying on a table top when his motion unbalanced the makeshift stretcher, twisting it out of Ziedon's sore and tired hands, and sending it crashing to the ground. Kreemon rolled a couple times on the ground before colliding with the filthy wall of the alley. Weak from his many wounds, he lifted himself carefully on the palms of his hands, and saw

Turn 144plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 144: Gathering Support

The day got worse and worse for Ziedon. The volume of the chant became louder, until at times it was almost impossible to concentrate. It would then soften, but never as much as the last time. Ziedon felt he was running out of time to deal with this problem, and given how the last fight with the priests went, he would probably need help, and a good plan. He had just decided that, when the chanting reached a crescendo more powerful than any before it.

Turn 145plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 145: Kreemon's Mob

“We'll drop you off at the boarding house and then go to Silnquost's guild house.” Kreemon chuckled, remembering how he started his current trip to Maelbourg. “I think we know how to get there.”

Kreemon and Korisca escorted Ziedon back to the boarding house, and then headed to the public guild house where

Turn 146plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 146: Confronting the Sign

While Kreemon stirred up the crowds of Maelbourg, Ziedon lay in bed, tied down, repeating over and over to himself that it was all a bluff. The music in his head, the rapid slipping away of his magical knowledge, it was just a trick. The mages from Forgolon's song were driven mad by the song and its effects, and either committed suicide or attacked the priests, which was just another form of suicide.

Turn 147plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 147: The Golden Priest

Ziedon looked down at his bound body and then up at the others. “I just had a very unique dream; I am not sure if I made things better or worse. Could you please let me up?”

While Korisca untied him, Ziedon said, “Tah'iera, I need some additional mice, or other small creatures, to replenish my supply of skulls. Could you please go find me some? If you could also please do a quick turn over the woods outside of the town walls, I'd like to get an idea of what is going on with the army that is out…

Turn 148plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 148: The Dream World

At the safe house, Ziedon unloaded his gear and then went through some stretching exercises to relieve his sore muscles. “Where is Kreemon?” he asked Korisca.

“He's out finding a place on the other side of town, in case we have to split. Ziedon, what was all that out there? I've never seen anything like it. That priest

Turn 149plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 149: Spreading Rumors

It was late morning when Ziedon came out of the dream. The sun was showing through the clouds, and the muddy streets were slowly becoming navigable again, despite the occasional drizzle. Kreemon and Korisca knew that the next day at midnight, the earth would open up outside of Huerten

Turn 150plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 150: Ziedon's Plan

It was finally the day of the earthquake. Kreemon, Korisca and Ziedon woke to a chill draft and flurries of snow outside, but they knew it would get hot later in the day. Their new boarding house wasn't nearly so well situated as the last one, being far from the walls and

Turn 151plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 151: The Earthquake, Again

“Ziedon's been gone a long time,” Korisca said, looking out the window into the ever-thickening fog. The earthquake was less than an hour away. At that moment, Tah'iera, Ziedon's demonic-looking bird, landed on the window sill. The bird looked into Korisca's eyes, then flew the couple feet and tugged on her shirt sleeve.

Turn 152plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 152: Another Use for Galgewe

The next day dawned to clear skies and a Maelbourg only slightly worse for wear. There were a few minor injuries, and one person had gotten lost in the fog and fallen into the river and drowned, but buildings, for the most part, still stood upright. The streets were a mess, but by early afternoon, most of the fallen lamp posts, broken carts and winter boarding had been picked up.

Turn 153plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 153: Vanquishing Evil

Kreemon kept his cloak wrapped around him and quickly made his way back to his room, frequently making sure he wasn't followed. He checked in with Korisca to get news of the town. Not much had happened while Kreemon was gone. People were still camped outside

Book 8

Turn 154plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 154: The Sailor from Marais

Cundee wasn't sure why he'd agreed to carry a passenger he'd known nothing about. Especially on this last big venture before the winter, when any delay could cost him dearly.

From the time he'd picked him up in Gerenois Harbor, just two hundred miles from Marais, he'd been trouble. It wasn't anything he _did_, precisely, but the crew were uneasy around him, and some of them blamed him for every little thing that went wrong. If only he _were_ responsible,

Turn 155plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 155: An Unexpected Detour

Progress up the river was slow. After an anxious day waiting for the ice to break, a day of sweltering heat sent torrents of melted snow downstream. The next day, rain fell so heavily that what little progress they'd made the day before was lost.

Turn 156plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 156: The Army and Balban

Cundee selected a barge crewman and one of his own for the shore party, and directed them to take some supplies and the closest thing to a tent and bedding as could be rigged from the barge. He also took along a few samples of the cargo. Late in the afternoon, they set off, and made camp in the dark, not too far from the army, but far enough that they wouldn't be heard if they kept their voices to a whisper.

Turn 157plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 157: The Preceptor's Day

Preceptor Halaren arrived in Maelbourg on the first day of the one thousand first year of the Zioth. The previous priest, a timid man in his thirties whose gray hair and tired look made him seem fifty or more, spent only two days training Halaren before he left town. Now that whichever higher-up he'd offended had forgiven him, he wanted to leave as quickly as possible. This left

Turn 158plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 158: The Andrithan Townsman

Before bed, Halaren had some chores. He walked from the temple to the garden nearby, his wooden bucket in hand. From it, he produced a carrot wrapped in a greasy cloth from the kitchen. He rubbed it in the soil as he prayed for the Mother to look after her children, then buried it in the ground.

Turn 159plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 159: How to get away

Kreemon wandered around for the rest of the day, sometimes as a wolfhound, other times as a man. The tension in Maelbourg had been rising for weeks, and it was finally breaking. Some people were bleary-eyed like they hadn't slept in weeks, and others were overly energetic, but almost everyone was happy. The music that was a constant background in

Turn 160plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 160: Lelen Meretal

Clouds moved rapidly overhead. After some time, Cundee, pacing up and down the length of the raft, trying to keep spirits up, saw a man approaching, in a simple tunic, muffler and cowl. The man looked to be in his late twenties, and stood wide and heavy, large feet and hands offsetting a comparably small head. Had he not been covered with muffler and cowl, his skin would have appeared pale and a little blubbery, tugging his facial features downward to give him a slightly sad and dim-witted appea…

Turn 161plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 161: The Barrier

Halaren lay down in bed, but couldn't sleep. He wasn't the only one; more than one resident of the temple paced back and forth through much of the night. At least the time passed quickly. It seemed like only a few hours before dawn arrived, and Halaren had to get out of bed again. He hurried through his usual morning appearances, then excused himself to sneak out of town again. He did not arrive at

Turn 162plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 162: Balban's Camp

Tah'iera returned to Ziedon to report where the journeyman had gone, and some of the conversation with the Messenger. Tah'iera also mentioned that there weren't many other birds about, and that those that remained were very confused about the barrier dome. It went all around the city, for about a mile in every direction.

Turn 163plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 163: A Difference in Viewpoint

“Journeyman Lelen,” Ziedon said. “How nice to see you again in such different garb.” Kreemon stepped around and to the side, taking up a flanking position.

The Andrithan priest shifted his weight and adjusted his clothing, an uncomfortable grin on his face, but no sign of surprise or alarm.

Turn 164plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 164: A New Friend

Kreemon wasn't too gentle as he ripped out the crossbow bolts and searched the priest and the thatched pack he'd dropped at the beginning of the fight. There was a lot of worthless junk - an old bedroll, a winter blanket, a bucket with a strange symbol carved in the bottom, some candles, a fishing net and a piece of reflective metal possibly used for shaving. There were packages of herbs that

Turn 165plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 165: Rousing the Dead

After a bit more discussion with the Preceptor, and watching him carefully apply mud from his jars to his own wounds, Ziedon heard a rhythmic tapping at the door and knew that Tah'iera was back. In a squawking language that Ziedon seemed to understand, the bird told him that there was one fresh grave in the

Turn 166plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 166: Just a Lot of Books

Sometime later, Ziedon opened his eyes to the dark interior of the Temple of Andritha. He felt well-rested, if a little stiff and disoriented. Was it morning? There was no way to tell. He picked up his spell book and turned the stiff pages one by one, looking for spells that would be useful that day. An hour or so later, he stepped out of the study, leaving the skeletons behind, and gathered everyone to the south side of the temple.

Turn 167plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 167: The Door Behind the Ribbon

“Excellent,” Ziedon said, looking down into the dark hole between the bookshelves. “Would one of you see where the stairs leads while the other keeps watch on the door? I will have a quick chat with those captive priests and then we will continue onward through this secret passage.

Turn 168plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 168: The Old Library

Kreemon walked around the edge of the disgusting pond, looking for any signs that the priest entered it. There were none. Unless Halaren was an excellent leaper, he wouldn't have been able to avoid leaving footprints in the muck. Just to be sure, Kreemon stood still for a while, watching for any ripples in the water that would suggest something larger than a frog or snake hiding in there. Again, nothing. There were a few shallow caves and quickly tapering tunnels in the chamber, but nothing larg…

Book 9

Turn 169plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 169: The Foreign Tutor

Frost hung in the air as Corbyn's breath escaped from the hood of the cloak. 'Even the weather here in Maelbourg is dour,' he thought as he wove his way around the House. But the unusual chill was not enough to stay him from his business -- he needed a new set of rooms. The widow Turen's house had been accommodating enough for a solitary lodger, but the old woman was a bit too nosy for his tastes and he suspected keenly interested in the comings and goings of her lodgers. No, a place with a bit …

Turn 170plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 170: A Job From F

The sting of being abruptly let go by Argol still stirred and burned inside Voss' heart. He was certain that he had made a good impression upon his employer. He was certain that he was worth more than at least half of Argol's retinue.... his careful, experienced study of the other men had revealed to him that most were paper soldiers

Turn 171plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 171: Playing Politics

After some minor preparations, Corbyn left for Grabble's, and Voss soon after. It was near the west gate, Weret had said, and it turned out that was all the direction they needed. Grabble's was the first inn one would come across, walking into town from the west.

Turn 172plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 172: The Mercenary's Refuge

Ramzi hoisted his end of the tied pile of planks onto his shoulder, and led the way to the townsman's house. He hadn't been told which townsman, nor did he care. In Maelbourg, the best most outsiders could hope for was manual labor. Fortunately, Ramzi had never been afraid of hard work, and no job was too menial for him. All he desired was food in his belly, a roof over his head when possible, and an escape from his violent past. After two years on the run, the weight of being a constant fugitiv…

Turn 173plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 173: Two More Pieces of the Puzzle

That evening, Ramzi was refueling the hearth in the common sitting room, when a giant of a man barged in, and demanded in a thick accent to speak with the head server. The accent seemed familiar, but Ramzi couldn't quite place it. It was certainly not from anywhere in

Turn 174plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 174: The Oddest Storm

Ramzi overslept. He didn't realize it at first, but after the large cloud passed overhead, the sun shone in brightly. The morning was half gone. He hurriedly got dressed and ran to the Stone and Fire. This time, Fennel did get upset. Doing one useful thing didn't give him the right to get all high and mighty.

Turn 175plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 175: Meeting the Preceptor

Corbyn and Ramzi arrived at the temple to find that someone had done their job for them. Broken boards swung from the sides of the door, and from the looks of it, the door had been forced open from the inside. The sound of a shovel digging through hard ground came from the garden outside the temple.

Turn 176plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 176: The Sky is Falling!

Corbyn opened the door to his barn and found a letter on the floor inside, tied to a pouch of coins. The letter read, “You've made good on the bargain, and so will I, but our meeting will have to be delayed due to weather.” It was signed, “F.”

Turn 177plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 177: Tala's Prophesy

The night draws ever closer, the Zioth is at hand, In the land completely overcome, Resigned to peace, prepared for war, An ancient plague contained.

Tala had followed the prophesy for close to half a year. It had been summer in the Seven Nations when he'd left. Now it was winter, and the strangest winter he had ever seen. First was the blizzard, then the rapid melt leaving mud everywhere. Then an earthquake, which had allowed

Turn 178plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 178: The House Guard

All the younger boys bunked together and served or studied in whatever way they were told. Like Gil, these were mostly the firstborn sons of converts to the faith. Their fathers, for a variety of reasons, had undergone the difficult conversion required to join the faithful. Those men who could not also make a meaningful donation in coin or labor, offered the promise of their firstborn sons. It was no honor to come in to

Turn 179plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 179: A Footprint in the Wall

At the sound of the approaching strangers, the guardsman yanked his hand away from the wall and spun around. Emotions flickered across his face that were hard to read. Fear maybe, or shame, but also a strange kind of dreamy wonder. All that was gone in a moment, and soon the handsome, broad-chinned visage wore the stony look of one used to standing watch. He stood perfectly straight, and his hand went to his sword, though he did not draw it.

Turn 180plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 180: The Rotted Oak

It looked like a fire had torn through the forest, yet the ground was covered in jagged chunks of ice. Halaren rested against the trunk of an oak tree whose branches, stripped off by some unknown force, were scattered on the ground around him. Many of them leaned against other similar trees, making the forest floor difficult to navigate.

Turn 181plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 181: A Dark Passage

Gil watched first in confusion, then in horror, as Voss was drawn into the tree. Finally, cursing himself for being so slow, he leaped forward, dropping his sword and grabbing the barbarian's right elbow which protruded from the wood. Bracing his feet against the outer portion of the tree, he did his best to pull the huge man free.

Turn 182plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 182: The Glass Room

“'Tis a glass goat!” the priest observed as he rounded the corner. He stopped next to Gil. “Your sigil. Your former sigil. Can you open it, sir?” Without enlightenment from Gil, Halaren looked around. The mechanism was quite beyond him, but chains were simple. They were like strong rope.

Turn 183plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 183: Averting the Signs

From the looks of it, something had long since grown and died in that room. Crumbled branches lay strewn about, and powdery dust that may once have been leaves or moss coated every surface. In the middle of the room was a solid stone desk whose edge was carved in the likeness of a snake, and beyond was an empty bookshelf.

Turn 184plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 184: A Secret is a Secret is a Secret

“Well,” the priest muttered, looking into the crowded room, “I suppose they have enough people in there.” He turned and walked the dark tiles towards the entrance portal to keep watch for the sorcerer and his unholy pets. He passed by Voss, who was intently examining his wounds.

Turn 185plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 185: Hidden Treasure

“My word!” The Preceptor cried at the sound of the glass door grinding to a halt, and grabbed his chest. He took a few breaths and looked back up, dismayed. “And I suppose we won't be able to close this door again, either. We are drawing Thand a map right to us.

Turn 186plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 186: The Song of Eternity

The blades shot out towards his neck--

--and struck the snakes. They weren't blades at all, but rather blunt blocks of shiny metal. Were they just there to tighten the collar? Gil felt the floor giving way under his knees. Instinctively, he spread out, searching for anything he could hold on to so that his neck wouldn't snap. There

Book 10

Turn 187plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 187: A Changed Maelbourg

Ziedon awoke from a dreamless sleep to a painful pecking on his chest. He opened his eyes and shut them again. His head was pounding, and his eyes felt like they were glued together. The next time he opened his eyes, he saw a blur that had to be Tah'iera. Next to him, Kreemon was sitting up with his head between his knees, trying not to vomit.

Turn 188plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 188: Finding Old Friends

Ziedon set the six items from under the House in a circle. He crushed a pearl over each one, and meditated, allowing the dust to sink in and reveal the power of the items. To Kreemon and the rest of Maelbourg, a full, exhausting day passed, but Ziedon's spell measured time perfectly. Exactly six true hours passed. By the time Kreemon cleaned and hid the bodies, found that no jeweler would open his doors, and returned, the ritual was complete. Both men were tired, but

Turn 189plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 189: Following the Paths

At any other time, Kreemon would have had an extremely difficult time disguising his activities. The wheelbarrows, the one active laundry in town not accepting customers, and above all the stench, would have been too conspicuous to ignore. As it was, though, no one wanted to investigate. There were too many more important things going on. After he'd cleaned enough bodies and wheeled their bones to his hiding place near the boarding house, Kreemon returned home. He wasn't surprised that

Turn 190plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 190: Disguised as Priest

Hours, or more likely with the altered passage of time, days later, Ziedon found Kreemon asleep in his clothes, with the open shutters letting in the chilly air. It was dark outside, some time past the middle of the night. Ziedon studied his spells by candlelight, then waited for Kreemon to wake. The moons moved across the sky. Shadows formed and slid across the floor. No more than two hours could have passed, but it was noon. It was incredibly disorienting to have the sky completely ignore

Turn 191plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 191: Followers of the Sorcerer

Kreemon opened the window and sat down in front of it. He could see the Paths, whether he wanted to or not. Where and when did they go? The paths were narrow, winding and endlessly intertwined. The hardest to follow led through time, but how far, and in what direction? At this point, all he could do was guess.

Book 11

Turn 192plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 192: The End of Eternity

Darkness.

Silence.

Gil's arm was outstretched, the stone key still in his hand. He couldn't move.

As much as the moving stone snakes had disquieted him, Corbyn felt it important to try and close the gap, get closer to the pillar. He still held one end of the whip, but he couldn't pull it. Was

Turn 193plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 193: Changes

Corbyn leaned back down the ladder and held his finger to his lips, gesturing at the others. Once he had gotten their attention, he used a free hand to form a shape: the legs of a man. He repeated the gesture for quiet, and waved upward, then he slipped out the opening as quietly as he could and glided over to a spot out of sight of the one open chamber, hoping to make a better assessment of the situation before things came to a head.

Turn 194plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 194: The Mage and his Balowan

Halaren had been silently watching the dialogue with the priest unfold. Any word could be the last, and he worried about their fate once talking stopped. He looked down the hole where Tala looked back up at him. Voss's sword was still on the floor. Obviously he did not get the meaning of

Turn 195plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 195: Taking a Stand

Voss's refusal to enter the cell made Corbyn nervous. “Again, sir,” he said trying to deflect a bit of attention, “my friend here is not a Balowan or whatever you call it.” He looked at the awaiting room. “Looks more like a waiting room to me, Mr.

Turn 196plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 196: A Long Time Ago

Halaren beamed and shouted with a wave as the family departed, “'Tis so! He will show kindness, and know kindness in return!” Even without speaking the name of the goddess, he was pleased to share some of her teachings. Returning to his friends, he attempted to reveal the year.

Turn 197plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 197: The Initiate

Arnell Trent had been an initiate of Brundash for close to a year. Born in the foothills of the Kourels, in the heart of Andrithan land, he had been a sickly child, and as such, fell into a life of scholarship and calligraphy, rather than the martial path his brothers took. He learned early on that he had an affinity for magic, and thus had been entrenched in

Turn 198plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 198: Magic for Magic

“Corbyn, may I see your wound?” Halaren sat him down near a pile of dried manure and proceeded to clean his wound. “Blast. I need more ointment.” Corbyn wondered if that was how he referred to the herbal mud their healer so generously rubbed into people's wounds. He became even less comfortable as their healer eyed the manure.

Turn 199plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 199: The Andrithan Healer

“Arnell, is it true?” Voss asked. “Corbyn, why would you accuse him of such a thing?

“Just being cautious, Mr. Voss. It seems Sir Arnell did something -- not necessarily malevolent, mind you -- but he realized something and I would like to hear from him that this is indeed the case.

Turn 200plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 200: Where to Find a Secret

They continued to exchange information over the next hours. Arnell asked each of the others about their backgrounds, and was rewarded with stories of Tala as a wanderer from the east, Voss as a member of the savage Vhoosch tribe, Gil as a House Guard of Morenth who had felt drawn to

Turn 201plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 201: Yunim

Other than its location on a map, Yunim had very little in common with Dunweig. This was a city, packed dirt and cobblestone roads congested with people, mules dragging carts and wagons, and even a few horses carrying the wealthiest guild masters and merchants. Of course, horses would be far more common four hundred years later, when the harness would be perfected.

Turn 202plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 202: A Splash of Water

Arnell woke with a start, sitting blot upright in bed. In truth this wasn't that unusual. He immediately felt abuzz as if the day was to hold something special. He quietly opened the window shutters to let the early morning light into his small, orderly room, dressed and went through his usual morning routine. Soon he was sitting over his spell book in deep, silent concentration. It did not do to flaunt magic. Anyone knocking on the door would have assumed he was still asleep for the response th…

Turn 203plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 203: Risen Kanal

Halaren settled back into the dark corner of the bench, the smile fading from his lips. He let an internal well of confusion, emotion and voices of the past fill him and take him over. His face pinched together, like the wringing out of a cloth. In a minute he was near to tears, but his thoughts were already being collected. The order of

Turn 204plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 204: A Hasty Exit

Halaren breathed in deeply and exhaled with vigor as they emerged from the confines of the temple. He seemed genuinely pleased with their meeting with Risen Kanal.

“I really thought we were in trouble there,” he said. The beaming priest turned to the others to see what they honestly felt about what had transpired.

Turn 205plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 205: The Death of the Spies

The enforcer's visor hid his face entirely, so any expression he wore while riding at his rapid but even pace towards Arnell was invisible. It almost seemed that the enforcer would ride right past the beaming and smiling man in the center of the road, but he reared his horse at the last moment. Those townspeople close enough to see backed away silently, watching with interest while ensuring that no one could possibly associate them with what was going on.

Turn 206plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 206: Never Touching the Ground

Corbyn swiveled to Arnell, focusing on the dapper man to the deliberate exclusion of Halaren's gruesome workplace. “Perhaps there may be no need to run. We have certainly borrowed the carriage and horses, but I would not quite say they are stolen yet. The carriage could be returned certainly, but the owner is a good deal less likely to want it back. Some coin might be preferable. And more to the point Sir

Turn 207plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 207: Eluding Enforcers

While Halaren crossed the field, Arnell had several scares. The enforcer stayed still for the most part, but would occasionally move his horse a few steps one way or the other, or crane his neck to see what was happening. He was edging closer and closer to the place where his view of the silk would no longer be blocked. Then, just as

Turn 208plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 208: The Enclave of the Mad

After leaving Tala, they moved deeper into the forest just to be safe. The woods were inhabited, if very sparsely, and a determined enough enforcer might check each and every hamlet that was under the influence of Yunim.

They soon approached a clearing which seemed like an excellent place for a meeting, except that a group of a half dozen people was already there, around a single long hut with a grass-thatched roof. An old man naked to the waist sat on the ground, leaning over a large book. His…

Turn 209plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 209: The Blood Master of Gallia

Time passed quietly, aside from the occasional muttering from one of the Mad. Voss continued to pace around the edge of the clearing, watching for any signs of trouble. The strange residents of this camp did not seem to offer any threat, but the odd children made him uneasy, children who never entered into normal reality, despite changing positions occasionally. An hour passed, then two. The arrival of the group must have spurred an unusual moment of activity, or perhaps they were unusually quie…

Turn 210plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 210: A Question After All

Arnell finished up the food they had prepared and found a quiet corner to settle down in, grateful to be indoors at night. He checked the position of the windows and doors before sitting quietly and taking copious notes. It wasn't that he was unsociable, it was more that he had an evening and morning routine that he found hard to change. He also loved his sleep. If ever someone had wanted to torture

Turn 211plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 211: The Legend of Zilgard

When the sun's light began to filter through the trees around the clearing, and make its way into the open door and windows of the shack, the enclave of the Mad was silent. For once, all of them were sleeping or in their trance.

Arnell awoke as usual and looked around, surveying his surroundings. Going to sleep early had its benefits: he often woke with the birds, and aside from the dreams, his sleep was silent. He took out his books as he always did when he woke, and read, completely focused o…

Turn 212plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 212: Waiting in a Clearing

Risen Kanal hadn't specified where the Meeting would happen. He'd just said to look for a secluded place, so the group went deeper into the woods, away from the Enclave of the Mad and any pursuing enforcers or Morenthian guards. There was no sign of the elves they'd been warned about, at least no sign anyone would recognize. Four hundred years in the future, elves were a fairytale, commonly believed but with no proof. It was said they lived in the forbidding central forest of Huerten, a huge reg…

Turn 213plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 213: The Meeting

With the High Mage of Brundash just a few yards away, Arnell’s guard dropped. Not only was his long time hero standing in front of him, but also a great mage who could probably blink an eye and send Arnell to the netherworld. He tried not to look awestruck. Partly to indicate to the others that this mage was not to be trifled with, but mainly from his own respect for the man,

Turn 214plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 214: Brundash

The last time Voss stepped through a magic portal, he was impaled on the other side. Despite the uninjured magicians and balewans -- his own people, or some relation -- he was apprehensive, but if anyone could handle the brunt of whatever was in there, it was him. It was his duty to go first. Without any outward show of concern,

Turn 215plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 215: My Wandering Colleague

Arnell had bowed slightly as Belazan passed, but now stood to the side. Here, he held his counsel and simply listened as intently as possible, once again soaking up everything he could. He tried to study body language and perceptions. He waited, once again confident he was not the focus. He was getting used to it!

Turn 216plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 216: The Mad Mage's Curse

Outside, Fovery quickly caught up to Halaren. The priest recognized the mage's stance. It was obvious that high mage hadn't always been his profession. “What troubles you?” he asked.

Halaren sobbed as he leaned against what he thought was a tree, drawing in heavy breath. Nuts rolled from the bowl as his grip weakened.

Turn 217plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 217: You must ally with one

When Halaren left in the company of the High Mage Fovery, Corbyn and the others stayed in the stone pyramid for the night. Even Arnell was under constant scrutiny of the watchful eyes of the magi and Balewans who stayed with them. To Corbyn, being in the heart of a lost realm of magic and knowledge, yet being forbidden by the distrustful Cailena from so much as reading a common book was maddening.

Turn 218plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 218: Memories

“Milk?” the priest offered a cup to Corbyn when they were again alone. “It is a blessing from the Mother. Now, how do you feel?”

Corbyn reeled slightly as the initial effect of the potion took hold. Voss grabbed him by the arms and all but lifted the skinny fellow from the floor as he transferred him to a nearby bench.

Turn 219plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 219: The First Piece

Halaren held Corbyn's hand throughout the ritual. He hardly had a choice; the scholar held on with the grip of a woman in childbirth. Sounds and colors flew through the air as if they were solid things, and each time one struck Halaren by accident, it briefly held meaning

Turn 220plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 220: Gaping

The group awoke the next morning to find High Mage Fovery gone. In his place was a letter written in small, practical handwriting, practiced to conserve space, which was odd for someone who surely had no lack of ink or paper. Arnell read the letter aloud:

Turn 221plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 221: The Ancestor's Journey

These Storytellers were so strange in their approach to the truths around them. When looking at the truth, at the past and present, something was either true, false, or still in question. There should be no desire to meld the conclusions. What strange people to want to propagate lies into their histories for the sake of a narrative.

Turn 222plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 222: Raven Children

She visited all the Story Halls that night. The Halls weren't the only places stories were told, but they were the easiest places to find them. Finding a moment to speak with a Storyteller was much more challenging. The telling was a performance that was not interrupted except in prescribed manners. The listeners laughed together, clapped together, even sang together. It was an intricate ritual that

Turn 223plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 223: The Dream of Faulkan

The next day, Aldet knew something had changed in Gaping. It was subtle, but she'd been there long enough to have caught on to the patterns of everyday life. Had someone died? Had the peddler come into town off schedule? Had there been a fire? No, the first would probably have some ritual to go along with it, and there was none of the frantic activity one would expect from the later two. Well she was bound to find out eventually. Word spread quickly.

Turn 224plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 224: Strangers

After repairing her armor, Aldet headed into town late in the morning to keep an eye open for the strangers. They'd last been seen walking in the direction of the Polies, so she waited on that side of town. After meandering around for all of the morning and the early afternoon, she spotted them returning. They were very hard to miss. Even the blond one couldn't be mistaken for a resident of the village. As the group made their way through the paths, the young woman raised her hand to hail them a…

Turn 225plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 225: The Gatekeepers of the Mouth

Gil, Voss, Corbyn and Halaren met up again the next morning with a renewed sense of urgency. Fovery's accelerated timetable meant they didn't have long to finish their business in Gaping. Soon, Aldet arrived with the news that Polinakas had been seen around town. This would not normally be unusual

Turn 92: Meeting the Baron

Previousplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 91: The Creatures of the Rift

Sahlman felt a sharp tug on the rope. From the darkness where Daluar had vanished from sight came a muffled gasp and the 'shing' of a rapier being drawn. Then the rope went slack, followed by an unpleasant thump. For an instant, Sahlman feared the worst, but the hurried shuffling noises and twitching of the rope indicated that
IndexNextplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 93: The Zioth Institute

Sahl thanked the guards after reading the baron's note and signing for the money. He then turned to the party. “In a sense, this belongs to us all -- that's Kay, Ardith, myself and Daluar, for services we have performed during the quake and in exploring the rift. But more than that, the Baron expects us to use it to fund our explorations of the Zioth. I assume that all of us want to do this?
Played until: 2006-06-19
Posted: 2006-07-02
It was well into the afternoon when the dragged themselves over the lip of the rim and into the light. Most of the villagers had gone, but the dozen or so who remained watched the explorers with awe. That was hardly surprising. Besides the weapons, which by themselves would keep most people at bay, everyone but Kayplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigKay Wanderwit

Kay is an attractive, eighteen year old girl. She has dark brown hair, tanned skin and hazel eyes. The bow she carries is of a very fine quality. Kay wears brown calfskin breeches, and a green wool vest. When traveling, she wears brown deerskin breeches and a red linen vest. Her old cloak is black, and made of fine but worn wool. She has become a close friend of
wore torn and bloody clothing and armor, and old scabbed wounds that looked like they'd been healing for days. Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
was the only one with an injury that matched the fresh blood. And it certainly didn't help that Sahl had to pound his backpack a few times with his fist when it started to move on its own.

They had all been exhausted the night before, and none of them had gotten enough rest. The climb down had only compounded their aches and pains, and then they'd had to climb back up. Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
hadn't used his climbing muscles in months, and the others were just discovering theirs. If the way they felt now was any indication, they'd hardly be able to move tomorrow.

The silence of the villagers was a blessing, but it was a blessing that couldn't last. Within a few minutes, their curiosity overcame their caution and they asked incessantly about every aspect of the adventure. Finally, Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
answered their questions, letting the less experienced climbers lie on the ground and wait for their bodies to start working again.

“You should not go down the rift,” Sahl advised. “There is a dangerous animal there that can see in the dark and feeds on your flesh, but you cannot even feel when it is feeding. I think it has some poison in its spit which makes the wound go numb. Also there is poison on its skin.” Sahl described the creature. “We have captured one and put it in this bag. We will take it to the baron to show him. The good news is that these creatures cannot stand the light. They will flee even the light of a torch. Spread the news to the people living close to the rift but tell them not to panic. These creatures live in the dark, they will not come out during the day. I don't know if they will come up at night, but I would be careful for the next few weeks and carry a lighted torch if I had to go out at night. Be careful anyway. There may be other dangers.”

Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
tried to answer questions until the villagers were satisfied, but he had to send them away when he found he was repeating himself. Like little children, they wanted to hear the story of Sahl's adventure over and over.

When the area was a little more clear, Sahl spoke to his colleagues. “As I said before, I think these earthquakes are due to the coming of the Zioth, and they will get worse until the world is destroyed. We need to investigate this to see how people can survive it. I believe that we should get the baron involved so that he can pay for scholars to investigate this matter, make plans to deal with these kinds of emergencies, and send us as a party to investigate where there may be useful artifacts or information, but there may be danger. We need to go to the market and get a secure cage for this thing with a cloth to keep it dark, and secure poles fixed to it so that we can lift it without getting close enough to poison. Then we need to get the Zioth expert Hal and his friend Redbelve to prepare to meet the baron this evening. Then we can wash and rest for a couple of hours before we go to the meeting. Is that okay with everyone?”

Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
rubbed his face slowly, tiredly, with the heels of both trembling hands. “What you want, Sahl,” he said in a strangled voice, “does not matter to me, if you let me eat and drink something.”

Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
, though she was as tired as Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
, agreed with Sahl. The baron had asked for a report by evening, so that was when they would go. Sahl suggested they bring Redbelve and Hal. That would get both matters sorted out at once. With all that was going on in Huerten, they couldn't expect two meetings from the baron.

From a distance, the city looked no better for the few hours spent away, but as they got closer, they saw that the people of Huerten were already rebuilding. Everyone who had been crying hopelessly at their doorsteps, all those pleading with temples or begging at the doors of those whose homes had survived, all the naysayers and doomsayers, had either begun to help or had been pushed out of the way, kept inside where they wouldn't interfere with the work that had to be done. Winter was coming, and they were saying it would be a hard one. This was no time for mourning.

With all the work going on, it was hard to find a place to rest or food to eat. There was one place, however, where Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
knew she could find both. While Sahl set out looking for a cage, Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
brought Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
and Kayplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigKay Wanderwit

Kay is an attractive, eighteen year old girl. She has dark brown hair, tanned skin and hazel eyes. The bow she carries is of a very fine quality. Kay wears brown calfskin breeches, and a green wool vest. When traveling, she wears brown deerskin breeches and a red linen vest. Her old cloak is black, and made of fine but worn wool. She has become a close friend of
to the temple. As soon as she neared the door, though, she was accosted by the priests. They needed her to resume her healing. People were dying – some had already died – and Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
was the only one who could save the worst cases. Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
had to explain that her healing powers were nearly exhausted from the work done earlier in the day, but that didn't satisfy them. While Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
and Kayplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigKay Wanderwit

Kay is an attractive, eighteen year old girl. She has dark brown hair, tanned skin and hazel eyes. The bow she carries is of a very fine quality. Kay wears brown calfskin breeches, and a green wool vest. When traveling, she wears brown deerskin breeches and a red linen vest. Her old cloak is black, and made of fine but worn wool. She has become a close friend of
scrounged up some food and found relatively quiet corners where they could doze off, Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
used the remainder of her magic and then helped with her more mundane skills. It was quite a while before she could join the others for a much-needed rest.

It was even longer before Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
returned. He had his cloth- darkened cage, one that looked strong enough to hold the rift-creature, with a heavy padlock which, while not of the finest quality, was enough to keep the cage secure. He had found Hal but had given up on Redbelve. Hopefully, Hal would be able to find his friend before the meeting with the baron. The scholar had been fascinated by, and more a little afraid of, the caged creature. He had never heard of such a beast, but promised to find out what he could.

Besides the frantic activity of the temple, things were quiet for a few hours, and even the temple activity was quickly relegated to background noise. Then the cage started to shake and rattle, and shortly fell over, leaving the cloth to flutter to the floor. The creature's squeals were all but inaudible, but the fallen cage caught people's attention.

While a crowd formed around him, Sahl righted the cage and made sure the creature wasn't suffering. Leaving the others to guard the cage and deal with the crowd, he replaced the drapes and set off to find a dish of water and a live chicken to feed the creature. Then a thought struck him. He turned around and checked the cage to be sure it wasn't weakened. “We don't know if the creature is capable of breaking out of the bottom of the cage,” he said. “We will look foolish presenting an empty cage to the baron.” There were some signs of wear – it had been trying to chew its way out – but it hadn't made much progress through the iron. Satisfied for the time being, Sahl put the cage on a table and went to find food.

The others were left to answer the crowd's questions. Everyone in the temple, healer and patient alike, wanted to know what was in the cage and where it came from. By the time Sahl returned and awed the crowd by feeding the creature, it seemed like an exceptionally good time to have clothing patched and armor repaired, and to clean up for the upcoming meeting.

Miraculously, the castle, with its stone walls, was still in reasonable shape. Much of the decrepit outer wall, however, had finally crumbled. Knights patrolled the wall on horseback, each carrying a lantern, to make sure no one slipped through uninvited.

Hal and Redbelve were waiting near what was left of the castle gates. Both wore their finest – Redbelve his freshly-polished armor and Hal the best suit he could afford on a scribe's salary. Both were better dressed than any of the party, who owned little but their travel clothes. At least none of them wore the patched and bloody clothes that had accompanied them into the rift.

“Not sure why you wanted me in on this, Sahl,” Redbelve said, “unless it was to drag all this junk around.” Hal's precious chest of documents was sitting on the road next to him. A sack rested on top of that, and another was strapped to Hal's back, making his slight frame look comically overloaded. Hal's arms were wrapped around an immensity of parchment and paper, tied haphazardly together in little bundles.

“You are here, Redbelve, because you insisted,” Hal said. His eyes darted around nervously when a slight gust of wind played with the corners of his papers.

“Alright, alright. I wish we had a cart, though. I used to own one before it was crushed by the north wall of my house. So what's the plan?” He looked at Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
.

“First we report to the Baron on our first trip into the rift, show him the creature etc, explain how they could be a danger at nights, and point out that the rift must be explored to see if other dangers exist. Then we present Hal as the Zioth expert. Now Hal, you must make our case that the Zioth destroyed the lands once and that these calamities will get worse until the world is destroyed again. Remember that the Baron is a practical man who is concerned in the practical safety of his realm. You must not appear like a wild person to him. Present your knowledge in simple practical way. Point out that if these quakes get worse he can do simple practical things to make the situation better. He can set up a fire service or militia to deal with earthquakes. He can stop people building high buildings which can collapse, or building near rivers which will flood in an earthquake etc.

“Finally, ask him to fund us as a group to investigate the Zioth and to try to find a way to survive it. As a first step we should investigate this rift. It may have no knowledge to offer on the Zioth, but it poses an immediate threat.”

Hal was silent for a few seconds as he processed the instructions. “That sounds reasonable,” he finally said. “I have also obtained a small amount of information regarding the creature, which I will present to the baron.”

Redbelve smiled. “We'll see if that works. The baron's not superstitious, as he puts it. Maybe after you show him the thing in that cage, he'll change his mind. So who are your friends? And what happened to Johannesplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigMaster Johannes Eltermann

Johannes Eltermann is very tall, and slightly more slender than average, and has a well-defined, delicate bone structure. His hair and eyes are dark brown. He keeps himself well-groomed and clean-shaven, and tends to dress in plain but well-tailored clothing in dark, formal colors. The lack of ostentation flaunts his taste. He currently wears good-quality traveling clothes with matching boots, a belt, from which a dagger hangs, and a cloak.
?”

Hal looked at Redbelve, confused. “I thought I told you. Master Eltermann visited me some days ago, asking if I knew anything about a strange disease that has plagued his… wife, I think? Today, he returned to see whether I had found anything.” He stopped, apparently finished, but as soon as Redbelve opened his mouth he continued. “I told him what little I had learned. It seems his wife has disappeared, and he has set out to find her.”

This time, Redbelve counted to ten before deciding that Hal was really done. “Fair enough. So who are your friends? You're Terradian, aren't you?” he asked Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
.

Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
nodded, hoping this fact wasn't about to prove a point of contention.

Redbelve laughed. “Don't worry. I'm only trained to kill you if your governments cause trouble. In peace time, I wouldn't know where to find my sword.” To demonstrate, he reached toward his right hip with his left hand and groped around for a sword which was on the other side. Finding nothing, he spread his hands out in front of him. “See? Totally incompetent. And who are these lovely ladies?”

“How do you do, Redbelve,” Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
said. “I am Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
, Priestess of Andrithaplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigAndrithanism

Based on original ideas from Karl Schinke (Ardith). Symbols for aspects other than the Mother, along with the artwork, were contributed by Myron Wyles (Halaren).

Andrithanism and its variants are the dominant religion in Rang and the surrounding kingdoms. Within the boundaries of
, and this is my friend, Kay Wanderwitplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigKay Wanderwit

Kay is an attractive, eighteen year old girl. She has dark brown hair, tanned skin and hazel eyes. The bow she carries is of a very fine quality. Kay wears brown calfskin breeches, and a green wool vest. When traveling, she wears brown deerskin breeches and a red linen vest. Her old cloak is black, and made of fine but worn wool. She has become a close friend of
. Pleased to make your acquaintance, sir.” Kayplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigKay Wanderwit

Kay is an attractive, eighteen year old girl. She has dark brown hair, tanned skin and hazel eyes. The bow she carries is of a very fine quality. Kay wears brown calfskin breeches, and a green wool vest. When traveling, she wears brown deerskin breeches and a red linen vest. Her old cloak is black, and made of fine but worn wool. She has become a close friend of
said nothing, but gave a slight bow and smiled.

“Priestess Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
. So you're the one who's been healing with a touch, starting blizzards and blowing the windows out of temples. I'm in awe. I have to be honest with you. At the age of six, I stopped believing in all these stories about magic and monsters. Until I met Hal here, I didn't even believe in the Zioth. Things sure have turned around. Though I guess for you, they've always been turned around.”

Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
answered with a smile.

“Alright. Now that that's all settled, let's be off! Someone give Halkakplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
–”

“Hal, please.”

Redbelve smirked. “Someone give Halkakplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
a hand. He's afraid the wind's going to strip off his clothes.”

Kayplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigKay Wanderwit

Kay is an attractive, eighteen year old girl. She has dark brown hair, tanned skin and hazel eyes. The bow she carries is of a very fine quality. Kay wears brown calfskin breeches, and a green wool vest. When traveling, she wears brown deerskin breeches and a red linen vest. Her old cloak is black, and made of fine but worn wool. She has become a close friend of
and Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
offered to help, only to be pounced on by Hal. “Be _very_ careful with those. You don't know how old they are. No, stop. Do you know what careful means? You're tearing it! Stop. No, no. I'll carry them.” He said all this before they'd done more than touch the papers, so they left the scholar to himself. Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
took one end of the heavy chest Redbelve was carrying, and the six of them headed for the castle.

With Redbelve in the lead, getting in posed no difficulty. Moving around inside the castle was much harder. People were everywhere, some cleaning up after the earthquake or repairing cracks in the walls, but most just hurrying from one place to another. The group was directed to the long line leading to the office of the Second Clerk, where they waited for close to an hour. When they were finally admitted, they saw the office no less disarrayed than when Kreemon had taken the Clerk hostage.

The Second Clerk was busy at his desk, scribbling notes, handing them off, having terse conversations with each person who arrived and then getting rid of the person as fast as possible. He looked utterly exhausted, but then, so did everyone.

“Oh, it's you,” he said, looking up at Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
. He handed a note to one of five running-boys who waited around him. The boy hurried out. “I suppose your manner of dress can be forgiven, given the situation outside. You –” he pointed at one of the boys. “Inform the baron.”

“What –” the boy began.

Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
and Salmon. They have an appointment.” The boy nodded and ran off. “Wait outside my office.” As the group filed out, he added, “any news on Kreemon Fangly?”

“No news. I expect he is avoiding us. We may have seen him from a distance near the rift, but it was a long way away and I could be mistaken.”

“The rift? Then he has used the earthquake as an opportunity to escape. How one man can hide from all the knights of Huerten is beyond my comprehension. Wait outside.”

The people in the crowded hallway gave Sahl's rattling cage plenty of room, but no one asked questions. These were knights, burghers, guild-masters and administrators, and while they were curious, they weren't about to crowd around and pelt Sahl with questions like common street-people.

It was another half hour before the boy returned. When he did appear, he led them wordlessly to the baron's office, which had a shorter but slower-moving crowd outside of it. This was less a line than a cluster of people milling about, but there was an order to it; Everyone seemed to know when it was his turn to enter. In another hour and a half – three hours since they'd entered the castle – Sahl and Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
were called in by name.

The baron's office was larger than the Second Clerk's. Its shape was odd, like it had been merged together from several adjoining closets. A half-dozen alcoves contained chairs or cabinets or, in one case, an empty suit of armor. Besides the baron, who looked almost as exhausted as the Second Clerk, two knights in chainmail stood in the room, possibly as guards. The herald who had called Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
and Sahl was sitting near the doorway.

The room was decorated to make it look impressive, with flags, swords and official documents, and a few preserved animals along one shelf. Right now, however, the effect was lost. The stuffed eagle had been bent slightly out of shape, and several items were still on the floor, waiting to be re-mounted. An official land-grant, signed and sealed by the king, was hanging on the wall in a warped and broken frame.

The baron sighed. “I apologize for the delay. You can imagine that things have been a bit crazy. I wasn't told that _you_ were here as well,” he said, looking at Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
. “Let's start with that, then. What did you learn about these devil-creatures and the new rift? Rumor has it you brought one back with you.” He glanced over his desk at the cage on the floor next to Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
.

Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
inclined his head, hands clasped formally behind his back, and opened his mouth to speak, but didn't get a word out before Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
smoothly stepped in.

“First let me introduce you to these people, my lord. This is Halkakplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
, an expert on the Zioth” – the baron grinned when he heard the name, the same as that of the brightest of the moons – “and his friend, the knight Redbelve. Halkakplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
will tell us later about the Zioth. He also has heard of these creatures.

“Now about the Rift. It is a perilous place. Fortunately, Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
here and I are sturdy men, and we had the healing and guidance of Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
, or we would have died. The rift has treacherous footing and many caves and tunnels. The light only penetrates to the inner depths near midday, so to investigate it you must carry torches or other light source.

“The only living creature we found was a beast which feeds on flesh in a very clever way. It has something in its bite that makes the person bitten numb to pain, so you cannot even tell if it has bitten you. It is small but tough to kill, like a badger, and its skin is poison to the touch. The great weakness it has is that it cannot bear the light, and can be driven away, even by a torch.

“I have such a captive beast in this cage. Baron, please ask for the light to be dimmed so that I can remove the cover without the light driving it mad.”

Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
silently nodded. Kayplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigKay Wanderwit

Kay is an attractive, eighteen year old girl. She has dark brown hair, tanned skin and hazel eyes. The bow she carries is of a very fine quality. Kay wears brown calfskin breeches, and a green wool vest. When traveling, she wears brown deerskin breeches and a red linen vest. Her old cloak is black, and made of fine but worn wool. She has become a close friend of
stood stolid, watching.

Baron Huerten waved his hand, and one of his attendants covered the lamps. It was still considerably lighter than in the rift, but perhaps this would be enough. With his back to the small fireplace so as to block its light with his body, Sahl uncovered the cage. The creature immediately squealed and scurried around in a panic, trying to escape.

shkurdaru

All eyes were on the cage. No one spoke for a long moment. Then Hal broke the silence. “The… the c-creature… I…” He took a breath. “I have found references to animals bearing a resemblance in texts possessed by my colleagues. There are stories of cradles emptied in the night and nothing but blood left behind. In many of the villages surrounding Huerten, people still keep lamps lit all night to drive away…” He took one sheet from his bundle, unrolled it and read, ”'the beast whose touch deadens, whose sight blinds, who consumes the body and corrupts the soul….' It goes on much like that, in verse. Written in Huerten Cityplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigHuerten City

With ten thousand people and a disproportionately large military, Huerten City is the largest and most powerful population center in Rang. Baron Huerten lives in the center of the city, in his castle, the outer walls of which long ago crumbled to ruin.
, seven oh three. Later, the creature is described in more detail, which leads me to believe that we are looking at one of the same. They are said to have been exterminated more than three hundred years ago – or driven away – it is unclear – by, the text claims, magic.” He searched for his place, then put the sheet down and picked up another, ”'The Great Communion of six eighty nine to six ninety seven gathered at the enclave with the Ritualists of Eight' – that is, there were eight of them, I think – 'and performed the Expunging in unison, driving the volesveinagvergger' – that is what they were called, I believe. The word has no translation I know of – 'into the fiery underworld, where they would suffer the same torture that they imposed….'” I am translating as I go, of course. The language is not entirely Rouchplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigLanguage

Rouch

Rouch is the vernacular, or common tongue, spoken throughout Rang. Because of Rang's influence, it's also a trade language in the surrounding kingdoms.

Sarnam

Sarnam is the “old tongue,” spoken by the priests of Andritha. Most of the nobly-born are familiar with the language.
, but rather a slight variation on Sarnamplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigLanguage

Rouch

Rouch is the vernacular, or common tongue, spoken throughout Rang. Because of Rang's influence, it's also a trade language in the surrounding kingdoms.

Sarnam

Sarnam is the “old tongue,” spoken by the priests of Andritha. Most of the nobly-born are familiar with the language.
, with words from Rouchplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigLanguage

Rouch

Rouch is the vernacular, or common tongue, spoken throughout Rang. Because of Rang's influence, it's also a trade language in the surrounding kingdoms.

Sarnam

Sarnam is the “old tongue,” spoken by the priests of Andritha. Most of the nobly-born are familiar with the language.
scattered throughout. The next –“

“Alright,” the baron interrupted. “I think I get the idea. Are there any details on this 'Expunging' and how to do it? Anything about the threat these voles… these creatures pose or how to get rid of them?”

“It says… The next document,” Hal continued, “details a numbing salve derived from the volesveinagverggers' poison – not an actual recipe, but the method of its use to ease the pain of the injured during surgical procedures –”

“Never mind. I will have men watch the rift, to ensure that none of the creatures escape. The population of Huerten will be warned to watch out for them. There should be nothing to fear. Winter is almost here, so everyone who can afford it will have a fire burning in his hearth anyway, which should be enough to frighten them off. So what will we call these creatures? Their old name is too long for people to remember. I assume you discovered them.” His attention was once again on Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
. “I give you the right to name them.”

Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
was taken aback. He stuttered for a second, then fell into deep thought.

“My Lord,” Sahl said, “the matter may be more serious than that. Our information is very limited at this time. We have discovered only one type of creature, but there may be many different and more dangerous creatures in the rift. I suggest patrols of half a dozen men at arms around the rift, with dogs to give warning, horns to summon aid, and torches ready to light at a moment's notice. Maybe a small fortified stockade erected close by as a base for those patrols, with a dozen mounted knights ready to respond if the patrols call for help.

“One thing that troubles me is that the menace was thought important enough to require a gathering of mages to deal with it. We have no such resources. Therefore we should be on our guard. I also don't like the mention about corrupting the souls.

“Undoubtedly we will need to mount more expeditions into the rift to learn more. With better light, and more men. However, I would also like to get on to the subject of the Zioth which is causing all these events. With your permission Baron….”

“I'm not convinced the mythical Zioth is at fault here, but I did promise you an audience for this express purpose.”

Hal began to answer before Sahl's mouth was fully open. “I have collected an extensive … uh … collection of works, many over the past twenty years, some over the past day or two from my colleagues here in Huerten. While some of them were skeptical, most were thrilled to have the opportunity to present their findings to you.” Hal crouched down and tried one, then another key in the lock on his chest, each time making more noise than was necessary, but enough to give a sense of drama to the operation. The baron sunk a bit in his chair. “Some of these works date back almost to the moment of the Zioth – the previous one, of course.” Hal opened the chest and delicately withdrew the top half of a decaying tome. “This one is from the early three hundreds. It is an original, never copied.” He opened the book and read a language that no one else in the room understood. Then he translated what he could, and then went back to the text. After a few minutes of this, the baron interrupted.

“My time is limited. If you could just skip to the important part –.”

“Of course, my lord.” Hal skimmed the page, turned it, and read from the top of the next page. “This passage is particularly important. It's really the part that allowed me to understand the entire text, since the language ties in with the previous and following, and gives some hint as to the missing sections.” He proceeded to read and explain things that, while perhaps interesting to a linguist, could put anyone else to sleep. He then went on to the next page.

“I understand,” the baron said. “These lizard-creatures had meetings which purposely excluded humans. Now if you could summarize the rest, I would be appreciative.”

“Of course. All of the rest makes sense if you understand the use of the conjunction 'fer,' here. The word is most similar to the Sarnamplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigLanguage

Rouch

Rouch is the vernacular, or common tongue, spoken throughout Rang. Because of Rang's influence, it's also a trade language in the surrounding kingdoms.

Sarnam

Sarnam is the “old tongue,” spoken by the priests of Andritha. Most of the nobly-born are familiar with the language.
prefix for 'and,' but if you compare this against other sources of the time, such as the well-known religious treatise, 'Cortlegge Tutelenimus' of four twenty one, you'll find that it is much more likely to mean 'but,' or, more precisely, 'and or but,' which in modern Rouchplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigLanguage

Rouch

Rouch is the vernacular, or common tongue, spoken throughout Rang. Because of Rang's influence, it's also a trade language in the surrounding kingdoms.

Sarnam

Sarnam is the “old tongue,” spoken by the priests of Andritha. Most of the nobly-born are familiar with the language.
collapses to the more simple 'but.'”

“Let me try,” Redbelve said. “We don't have much time, Hal. Just give us an outline. Just the gist of it.” Hal nodded and reached in for the next book, and Redbelve touched a hand to Hal's wrist. “You know the books well enough. Just a summary. You know, the stuff you tell to nincompoops like me.”

“But the baron –”

He glanced at the baron for approval. “Would be happy to be treated like a nincompoop if it means he can get on to the other important things he has to do tonight.”

“But without the proper contextual –”

“Hal, just a summary.”

From there, things went a little more smoothly, though Redbelve had to keep Hal in check when he strayed from the topic.

In addition to the things he'd told Sahl weeks ago, Hal pulled together quite a few other sources. He mentioned numerous creatures and cultures which no longer existed. He brought up the Zahiransplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigZahira

by Diane Hutton and the DM

The Common View

Zahira is seen as a dangerous cult that welcomes the Zioth and embraces death. It is led by mysterious druid-like entities known as “True Zahirans.” There is quite a bit of legend surrounding these druids, such as their ability to appear out of nowhere, or the fact that they all look alike.
' ability to predict lunar phases. He talked about methods that early peoples had used to try and prevent the Zioth from happening again. He also noted that in many of his sources, crucial parts had been removed, particularly places where the Zioth may have been linked to non-human creatures. He suspected this was due to the anti-magic sentiment over the past few hundred years.

Tracing documents through time, Hal explained how magic, or some other mysterious force, had slowly dwindled since the period known as Midynd, which covered the third through seventh centuries. Almost all mythology was placed historically at the seventh century or earlier. There had, however, been a few, scattered, more recent stories about beings or places of great power. “These stories are not well publicized. If they're taken to be true, one might think their subjects were deliberately trying to remain obscure. The overall trend leads me to postulate that, while magic has become so rare as to be almost unheard of, what remains has focused strongly on individual places, or, perhaps, people. That is, assuming magic ever existed at all.”

“We know the answer to that one,” Redbelve said, glancing at Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
.

Hal paused, as if thinking that over. “Until now, the mythical animals and intelligent creatures have gone the way of magic. For a reason none of my sources explain, however, they've begun to reappear. These volesveinagverggers, and the brininigplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigFey

Having so much diversity in themselves, humans have been known to muddle the stories of other races together, and confuse them until it is easier just to clump them all into the category of “fairy folk.”

The common words used for many in this category,
encountered by Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
.”

Redbelve jumped in again. “There have been more and more stories coming out of the Louthrob swamp, and then there's always Fairy Lake, where Sir Meletel disappeared a few years back.”

“All this is very interesting,” the baron said, sitting straighter in his chair. “Dragonsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDragons

Last updated for turn 216

There is a wide variety of stories about dragons. Some tell of majestic and benevolant beings who are willingly given tribute. Others tell of horrible, mindless creatures who think of nothing but destruction. Dragons in myth range in size from smaller than a blade of grass, to larger than Aerv itself.
, brininigplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigFey

Having so much diversity in themselves, humans have been known to muddle the stories of other races together, and confuse them until it is easier just to clump them all into the category of “fairy folk.”

The common words used for many in this category,
, moon-followers, but even if these aren't just the stories they seem to be, how does all this help us now? I don't know anything about ceremonies to strengthen the moons, or long metal cords holding them in the sky, or magic shields to keep people safe, or anything else you've been talking about. These things just aren't possible. As a child, my tutors were from the University of Duerstadtplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigThe City of Duerstadt

Duerstadt has been the capital of Rang since the reign of Diure XXXVIII (729-749). It is a major trading port on the Ice Sea (so called for the occasional iceberg that shows up therein). The Ice Sea separates Rang from the Skendu Islands to the north. Although the harbor of Duerstadt isn't threatened by pack ice in the winter, the various Skendui ports are, and the distance between the north coast of
, and I was never told about Brundashplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigBrundash

By Arnell and the DM. Last updated 2014-09-17

Before the Battle of the Magics, Brundash was the mysterious home of a world-wide organization of magi. Even then, few could claim to have seen it, and no one would say where or even what it was. Brundash was a term used both for the place, and the organization.
or any of the other places you mentioned. Like the priests and priestesses of Andrithaplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigAndrithanism

Based on original ideas from Karl Schinke (Ardith). Symbols for aspects other than the Mother, along with the artwork, were contributed by Myron Wyles (Halaren).

Andrithanism and its variants are the dominant religion in Rang and the surrounding kingdoms. Within the boundaries of
, and almost everyone else in world, you say we have nineteen years. What do you propose to do in nineteen years? The priests say the devout will be saved anyway.”

“Baron, if I might reply,” Sahl said. “I'm not saying that we can do anything about the Zioth. It may be that we are helpless and all destined to die in nineteen years' time. However, what I am saying is that we should first try to understand what is happening. We should then look for a way of managing the disaster so as to minimize its effects during the period up to the Zioth, and thirdly, that we should look for a way to survive. None of this is possible without an active effort on our part. If the ancient texts are right, and we have seen the earth split with our very own eyes, and seen the creatures of the Rift, then such earth movements and disasters will become more frequent. If we understand this, then we can prepare for them and manage them much better than last time. Also the people must be prepared in some way. As there are more and more disasters, the people will begin to panic and become desperate. They must be directed in some way. They must see that action is being taken to reduce the damage, and they must be given some belief that they will survive. Perhaps the church of Andrithaplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigAndrithanism

Based on original ideas from Karl Schinke (Ardith). Symbols for aspects other than the Mother, along with the artwork, were contributed by Myron Wyles (Halaren).

Andrithanism and its variants are the dominant religion in Rang and the surrounding kingdoms. Within the boundaries of
may help in comforting them. Prayers must be said regularly, a sense of order must be kept. Otherwise there may be rioting and disorder to add to our problems. I point this out to you, because you, as a ruler, are able to lead this effort.

“Finally, we must investigate all the old legends to try to find some clues as to how some people survived the last Zioth. This may well be a hopeless task, but it is better than living without hope. I, for one, will dedicate my life to this.� Sahl paused and let the silence grow in the room.

“I do not think the people problem is so great as you make it out to be. As the priestess here well knows, The Church has been saying for years that prayer and devotion will prevent the Zioth, or at least allow the faithful to pass through unharmed. So other than fighting for greater religious fervor,” the baron said, grinning slightly for the first time that Sahl had seen since he'd heard Hal's full name, “what do you expect me to do about all this? I have a city to rebuild, widespread poverty and hunger to fight, and who knows how many pauperized knights to deal with. The next several years will be busy, with or without the Zioth, and I doubt the king will come to my aid this time.”

“You know your own business best my lord. I only make suggestions. I just wish to warn that these problems will grow worse. When rebuilding, you might rule that buildings should not be more than one story high, should be sturdy, should be built with a gap between each other to avoid fires spreading, should not be built near the lake or river plain, because these might flood when the earth moves. Maybe you might build a stock of supplies to deal with emergencies. For my part I only wish to investigate the Zioth and I would like such aid, permission, and patronage from you as you can provide from time to time.”

Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
added her piece. “I know little of the Zioth than what the Church has already made clear, my lord, but what my friend has suggested about the rebuilding of the city makes good sense. Even without the threat of new earthquakes and other such, crowding buildings together is dangerous, and building too high is also.

“The church of Andrithaplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigAndrithanism

Based on original ideas from Karl Schinke (Ardith). Symbols for aspects other than the Mother, along with the artwork, were contributed by Myron Wyles (Halaren).

Andrithanism and its variants are the dominant religion in Rang and the surrounding kingdoms. Within the boundaries of
builds stockpiles of supplies for emergencies; it would seem prudent for the government to do so also. Your Grace, please allow these scholars and adventurers to pursue their investigations, and provide them with what they need to do so. It can do no harm, and has the prospect of great benefit for all.” Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
concluded by bowing to the baron.

“And what do they need? Money, which will be in increasingly short supply.

“I could use all of you on my staff. Persuasive speech, good sense and a level head in an emergency. That is a combination that most who work for me lack. I would offer you jobs in the administration of this city, but I doubt you'll accept.”

The baron was quiet for a long time. Whenever someone started to speak, he waved him or her down. Finally, he stood up from his chair and held himself in a formal pose to which he was quite accustomed.

“Whether the Zioth is a threat is still questionable. However, one must consider all possibilities. Halkakplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
, if you are acceptable to Rettald, the Master Archivist, you will be appointed Chief Archivist of Zioth Materials. It will be your responsibility to collect information regarding the Zioth, and to inform Rettald when any important patterns develop, or when you find information applicable to today. You will be allotted a small discretionary fund in case you feel it necessary to leave the city for your research.” Hal was frozen in shock, reams of paper still clutched to his chest.

“As for the rest, I personally owe my life to two of you. Three,” he corrected himself, nodding to Kayplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigKay Wanderwit

Kay is an attractive, eighteen year old girl. She has dark brown hair, tanned skin and hazel eyes. The bow she carries is of a very fine quality. Kay wears brown calfskin breeches, and a green wool vest. When traveling, she wears brown deerskin breeches and a red linen vest. Her old cloak is black, and made of fine but worn wool. She has become a close friend of
. “And countless citizens of Huerten would be dead now if it weren't for each one of you.” He excluded Redbelve with his glance, but the knight didn't seem concerned. He did, after all, have very little to do with this. “I've heard quite a few stories over the course of the day, and you are rapidly becoming heroes in this city.”

He sat down again, dipped a quill in ink, and wrote quickly and in a trained hand on a sheet of parchment. “Priestess Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
, I can't order the high priests to let you go, but this may be something in your favor.” He finished the note, sealed it and handed it to Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
. “You may consider taking the time to teach some of the priests how to do… what you do… before leaving. Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
El Musafir, Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
Sulanguan –” he mispronounced Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
's last name, but now was not the time to correct him – “Kay Wanderwitplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigKay Wanderwit

Kay is an attractive, eighteen year old girl. She has dark brown hair, tanned skin and hazel eyes. The bow she carries is of a very fine quality. Kay wears brown calfskin breeches, and a green wool vest. When traveling, she wears brown deerskin breeches and a red linen vest. Her old cloak is black, and made of fine but worn wool. She has become a close friend of
and Priestess Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
, if your temple permits: You will not be hindered in your investigations by this government. I will have the Second Clerk draft documents which put you in the payroll of the city, but you won't be kept here. These documents give me the right to do _this_ without raising any questions.” He wrote another note, sealed it and handed it to Sahl. “Take this to the treasury. Consider it a reward for saving my life, or an advance payment for services you will render while devoting your life to the Zioth, whichever feels better to you. Now if you'll excuse me, my herald is trying to tell me that the crowd outside my office is becoming large enough to strain the castle walls.”

“Thank you, your Grace,” Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
murmured without further comment. Kayplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigKay Wanderwit

Kay is an attractive, eighteen year old girl. She has dark brown hair, tanned skin and hazel eyes. The bow she carries is of a very fine quality. Kay wears brown calfskin breeches, and a green wool vest. When traveling, she wears brown deerskin breeches and a red linen vest. Her old cloak is black, and made of fine but worn wool. She has become a close friend of
merely curtsied and bowed her head.

“Thank you, my lord”, said Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
, bowing deeply, with eyes shining. “Your judgment is wise and far sighted. With your permission I will take this beast for Archivist Halkakplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
to investigate. Peace be upon you.” Sahl bent over to replace the cover on the cage.

“I beg your pardon?” the baron asked. Sahl looked up, but he was speaking to Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
.

The Terradian repeated what he'd said. “Sh'kurdaruplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSh'kurdaru

In turn 88, a rift opened up in the earth near Huerten City. Creatures were found inside, which could eat a man alive before he even knew what was happening.

The creatures move like lizards, and are extremely sensitive to bright light. Sh'kurdaru think only of food. They sneak up on their prey, and emit an anesthetizing poison through their skin and mouth, numbing the skin and muscle of their prey, and eat them alive before their prey are even aware of the attack.
.” This only got him more blank looks, so he gestured to the cage and clarified, “I name them sh'kurdaruplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSh'kurdaru

In turn 88, a rift opened up in the earth near Huerten City. Creatures were found inside, which could eat a man alive before he even knew what was happening.

The creatures move like lizards, and are extremely sensitive to bright light. Sh'kurdaru think only of food. They sneak up on their prey, and emit an anesthetizing poison through their skin and mouth, numbing the skin and muscle of their prey, and eat them alive before their prey are even aware of the attack.
. The beasts.” “Oh.” The baron nodded. “Very well then.” Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
squeezed Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
's shoulder. “Come on. Let us take no more of the baron's time.” He then left the room with the others, Redbelve and Sahlmanplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSahlman El Musafir

Sahlman's hair is blue-black and graying. His skin is dark and weathered. A huge handle-bar mustache sweeps down to cover much of his lower face, and Sahl is always careful to keep it properly groomed. He is generally very particular about his clothing, equipment and appearance. Sahlman wears the desert robes of his homeland, with headgear that blocks out the sun and hangs over his neck. He wears light trousers and high hard boots, and when his robes are wet, the hard links o…
lifting the cage out of the room, and Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
and Kayplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigKay Wanderwit

Kay is an attractive, eighteen year old girl. She has dark brown hair, tanned skin and hazel eyes. The bow she carries is of a very fine quality. Kay wears brown calfskin breeches, and a green wool vest. When traveling, she wears brown deerskin breeches and a red linen vest. Her old cloak is black, and made of fine but worn wool. She has become a close friend of
carrying Hal's heavy chest.

“Well that went well,” Redbelve said when they'd pushed through the much larger and more agitated crowd. “I've never known the baron to be so… nice. I guess having your main source of income almost kill you can do that. Then again, I might have spoken too soon. Treasury's this way.”

Before they reached it, a pair of knights stopped them. “The baron would like that cage taken to a safer place,” one of them said. “Word will be left with the master Archivist so you'll know where to find it,” he added to Halkakplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
. Before handing over the beast, Sahl insisted on getting a signed receipt from the guard. This was a natural trade practice taught to him by his merchant father. It took some time to find the paper to sign, and the knights were both irritable by the end, but Sahl had his receipt. “Remember,” Sahl said when they were taking it away, “it's a powerful digger. I'd keep checking on it to see its not broken out. I suggest feeding it a live chicken every day, and give it water regularly. Don't touch the skin. It burns, and the bite has something in it which stops the wound hurting so you can bleed to death before you feel a thing.”

With the knights gone, Redbelve continue to lead the way.

The guard at the treasury door looked surprised when he read the note. “Well you must be on the baron's good side,” he said. “I'll have to find the treasurer for this. Think you can handle things?” he asked the other guard, but didn't wait for an answer.

While he was away, Hal seemed to finally recover from the shock of what had happened. “I… I have to be going. I have to see the Master Archivist… I have so much to tell him.”

“I'm sure he does,” Redbelve said, smirking at Sahl. “Rettald's going to get a run for his money. Hal, I'll help you carry your junk, and defend the Master Archivist. Sahl, let me know how it turns out, will you? I want to know just how generous the baron _is_ after his run-in with the giant oak.”

The two went off, weighed down by chest, bags and loose papers. It was twenty minutes later before the guard finally returned, a little winded. “The baronial treasurer is busy, but everything's taken care of.” At the confused expressions in front of him, he rolled his eyes. “Don't tell me you don't know what this says…. Well, there's this to start.” He handed a bag over to Sahl. “Yeah it's heavy. That's an even thousand there, in trade money.” Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
and Kayplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigKay Wanderwit

Kay is an attractive, eighteen year old girl. She has dark brown hair, tanned skin and hazel eyes. The bow she carries is of a very fine quality. Kay wears brown calfskin breeches, and a green wool vest. When traveling, she wears brown deerskin breeches and a red linen vest. Her old cloak is black, and made of fine but worn wool. She has become a close friend of
knew the term, and Sahl could guess, but Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
hadn't been speaking Rouchplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigLanguage

Rouch

Rouch is the vernacular, or common tongue, spoken throughout Rang. Because of Rang's influence, it's also a trade language in the surrounding kingdoms.

Sarnam

Sarnam is the “old tongue,” spoken by the priests of Andritha. Most of the nobly-born are familiar with the language.
long enough, and the guard noticed. “Trade money. Ten-attleplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigRang Currency

The Aglar

Rang's economy is based on barter and silver, the later dominating commercial activity in towns and cities. The silver Aglar (ă'glǒr) has been minted since the early days of Rang, primarily out of the capitol, Duerstadt. There are also regional mints in most of the duchies, bearing unique mint marks, and producing, collectively, about four fifths as much as is produced by
coins. They're easier to load onto carts, harder to lose.” Daluarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDaluar Sulanguan

Daluar is a wiry, coal-skinned Terradian in the gray-and-blue uniform of a Calipperi soldier. He keeps both his face and head clean-shaven, and his leather armor in good condition; he has even tried to shape the rough patches on the collar, vambraces, and headband into regular contours. A rapier frogged at his hip, a quiver and longbow on his back, and a couple of pouches on his belt comprise most of his possessions.
actually owned a couple of the coins, but he hadn't known their name. He was slowly learning. “And then there's this.” He handed a note to Sahl, with the seal of the treasurer on it. “That's right. You've all been given access to the Baronial Armorer. The smithy is on the far side of the castle, away from the lake, about two hundred yards down. Show him this note, and he'll give you any surplus at a third the prices other smiths would charge for stuff that good.”

Sahl asked for the baron's note, and read it himself, while the guard continued. “The note's also good at the stables and the stocks, but they can charge anything. Who knows, at this rate you might be landed knights before long. Andrithaplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigAndrithanism

Based on original ideas from Karl Schinke (Ardith). Symbols for aspects other than the Mother, along with the artwork, were contributed by Myron Wyles (Halaren).

Andrithanism and its variants are the dominant religion in Rang and the surrounding kingdoms. Within the boundaries of
knows there's plenty of land.”

The other guard smacked him in the arm. “My cousins were crushed under their house, and my son's barely alive.”

That changed the mood of the first guard. “Sorry. Bad taste. Who was next?” There were two more people behind the group, who they hadn't noticed before. Each held a sealed note from someone or other.


The 1000at and the note for the armorer is for the whole party, but I'll put them on Sahl's character sheet until the Zioth Instituteplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Zioth Institute

After he was rewarded by the baron, Sahlman decided to set up an institute to study the Zioth. This started in turn 92 and turn 93.

Locations to choose from

These were the places Sahl investigated for the Institute. Sahlman chose #4.

* Farmland as far from the rift as possible. This will likely be small, expensive, and require a lot of repair. It's certainly doable, and might pay in the end. Farmhouses will generally be from one to four miles from town, the farther ones…
is taken care of. Sahl: -25at for lock, cage, cloth, chicken, etc.

Sahl: +1000at in trade money (belongs to party), note from baron

Ardithplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigArdith

Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
: Note from baron to temple.

Previousplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 91: The Creatures of the Rift

Sahlman felt a sharp tug on the rope. From the darkness where Daluar had vanished from sight came a muffled gasp and the 'shing' of a rapier being drawn. Then the rope went slack, followed by an unpleasant thump. For an instant, Sahlman feared the worst, but the hurried shuffling noises and twitching of the rope indicated that
IndexNextplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 93: The Zioth Institute

Sahl thanked the guards after reading the baron's note and signing for the money. He then turned to the party. “In a sense, this belongs to us all -- that's Kay, Ardith, myself and Daluar, for services we have performed during the quake and in exploring the rift. But more than that, the Baron expects us to use it to fund our explorations of the Zioth. I assume that all of us want to do this?