AD&D - New World

Paqi's Log - Supplemental
Always the necromancer, never the wizard.

Bertram_s_Notes_to_Paqi.jpg

It has been six days since we left Baybars’ tower. My instructor, Bertram Figg, has emerged from below decks but once since that time. Unable to speak, he communicates through me with handwritten notes scribbled on paper wet with tears and runny mucous. His handwriting was already difficult to decipher, but his current condition has only made it worse, I’m afraid. He has not been eating, and taking only water. The smell of Bea’s body has begun to overtake the storage hold, but he has refused to leave her side. Yesterday, he came to the deck to speak to Ervendio alone. I can tell by his face the exchange only caused him more despair.
I have found to take lessons where I can, and perhaps that was his intent all along. For instance, today he wrote “Givb water” which I understood to mean: “Give Bea Water”, when obviously he meant “Give me water”. When I raised the cup to Bea’s mouth, he slapped it away. The lesson here being; “Words and intent can often be misconstrued.” Or perhaps it is— “When Bertram is upset, leave him to his grief.” I will update once I have found the answer. Oh! Bertram is wise indeed!
After we came aboard, I showed Bertram the food I had been able to find to sustain us on our journey. I had hoped cooking would restore his enthusiasm, but I saw his face fall when I showed him the baskets of aphids, sea moss, and jellies I had gathered. I assured him that these foods were high in protein, but that only seemed to worsen his mood. As such, I have been tasked with preparing the meals for the crew. Most have accepted this without complaint. In fact, Teks was particularly pleased with my choice of aphid, as I had surmised he would be. Although I can feel a quiet mutiny for my cooking developing, only Jongle has voiced his displeasure, saying that his meal looked like his “(crotch after a night at Mammaries).” <sic> There are lessons here as well! Bertram once told me, “A good cook is like a wizard who dispenses happiness.” In that vein, “a bad cook is like a necromancer who dispenses woe.” On some days, I am the wizard, on others, the necromancer.
This morning I awoke to Bertram poking me with a wooden spoon. He was frantically pointing at the crystal ball we had recovered from the wizard Baybars. He wrote furiously on his pad, and currently I am trying to decipher the script while he paces the putrid hold.

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37: Wild Surges, Wild Mages
our heroes pay the highest price

The Revengers sit around the campfire and debate their course of action: sneak the sailors out of Baybars’s tower and escape the island, or confront the necromancer directly?

Teks, Jongle, Proteus, and Ervendio lean toward sneaking the sailors away. Bertram and Bea argue for confronting the necromancer, freeing this island from his tyranny, and making the world a better place. The group sides with them.

Paqi stays behind to keep a campfire lit, tricking Baybars and Melisende into believing that the group has not yet left the jungle. Shayjar leads them to the root cellar entrance and, made invisible by Bertram’s spells, they infiltrate the basement of Baybars’s tower. They find 12 dwarven sailors from the ship that brought Teks to the island, and with Jongles’s knock spell, they free them from their cages and chains. Shayjar leads the sailors back to the root cellar as the group again debates whether to leave, or to confront Baybars.

The Revengers decide to scale the tower and face the necromancer. They find the tower empty of living souls, but filled with books and items of potential magic importance. Attempting to read magic on a framed piece of script, Bertram’s spell experiences a wild surge. He loses his voice and the cure to his condition remains unknown — Bertram is silenced. Peeking out a window, the group sees that Baybars, Melisende, and a group of ghouls and ghasts have moved outside to assemble a tent and a feast. Made invisible by another of Bertram’s spells, Teks jumps down to the fray and engages Baybars in combat!

The rest of the Revengers quickly catch up. Baybars is pummelled by attacks and spells, unable to cast any of the deadly spells the Revengers have been warned of. Baybars is killed by the still-invisible Teks and the ghouls are turned by Ervendio’s divine power. Melisende, faced with overwhelming odds, is convinced to surrender and call for the other undead to step aside. Her words warn off Greg, a donkey-eared ghul lord, who shapeshifts into an undead hawk and flies away, but the two ghasts continue their assault on the group. One by one, Ervendio, Proteus, and Bea are paralyzed by the ghasts’ power — and Bea, the wild mage, the young girl who remade Grudgewood in her own image and who brought her brother back from pie-dom with a wish, was killed by a vicious bite from one of the undead creatures.

In the shocked moments thereafter, Teks and Melisende dispatched the ghasts. Teks demanded that Melisende renounce her father’s ways of necromancy and power over the undead, to which she agreed. She even swore never to pursue arcane powers again, and she revealed that Baybars was in possession of several magical items — including a ring of regeneration that could have returned him from the dead.

But it was too late for Bea Purplebottom. The Revengers recalled Paqi, Shayjar, and the dwarven sailors, and they took the body of their fallen friend to the ship. Carried by Old Reyas to the edge of the bay, the colenites which had impounded it did not impair the Revengers’ rowboats as they made their way to the large craft. Dubbed Sokurah, it is a large vessel capable of sailing both the open ocean and the waters of Amara’s Crowded Sea. Though it is manned now by a skeleton crew of Amaran sailors, it carries also the remaining members of Mildred’s Revengers, as well as their orphaned friends — Paqi of Sri Raji and Shayjar of this strange, unnammed island — as well as the body of one who has been with them from the beginning.

A friend, a mage, a companion in arms.

Bea Purplebottom, killed by a twist of fate while attempting to make the world a safer place.

XP
Group Awards
A Gargle of Seamen, 6000
7 Ghouls, 525
2 Ghasts, 1300
Baybars Defeated!, 14,000
Greg the Great Ghul, 405
Group Total 22,230, Individual Total 3705

Individual Awards
Bea: 4455 (The Purplebottom 750, Group 3705)
Bertram: 4455 (Silenced 750, Group 3705)
Ervendio: 4455 (Silencer 750, Group 3705)
Jongle: 4455 (Revenger 750, Group 3705)
Proteus: 4455 (Ghul Fighter 750, Group 3705)
Teks: 4455 (Jumping Into Trouble 750, Group 3705)

LOOT
2 bottles of wine
1 ring of regeneration
1 ring of mind shielding
1 caftan +3
1 crystal ball
1 wand of magic missiles (11 charges, cast as level 6)

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36: Killing an Elephant
our heroes work with a roc

Teks, Bertram, and Bea decide to light a grand fire to get the attention of the roc living atop the crag. Old Reyas, a mighty bird with a two-hundred foot wingspan, alights down from his nest and confronts the delicious morsels who have garnered his attention.

He is quite familiar with Baybars — he claims to have spied the old wizard’s horrific creations often, though usually they attempt to simply climb the crag without bothering to talk. Shayjar — secretly observing the meeting while invisible, alongside Bertram and Paqi — tells Bertram that Baybars is an evil necromancer who has captured the seamen from Teks’s ship. Old Reyas makes a deal with Teks and Bea that he will lift the ship out of the colenites’ grasp and out of the harbor if they will deliver to him some delicious meat — a whale, or two elephants — before the sun rises.

Teks tracks an elephant to a fetid pond. It is drinking water and frolicking with its mate.

Teks approaches silently to within 85 yards before the elephants catch wind of their hunters. The Revengers launch an assault! Bertram creates an illusion of a tar pit and the male elephant charges — directly into it. It seems to indicate to its mate that it should run, but Teks manages to launch himself upon it. Teks grapples with the female elephant, but a critical miss causes Teks to fall to the ground. The elephant stops, bites, and gores Teks to the edge of death as Bertram silently and carefully attempts to communicate with the male elephant, which is trapped by Bertram’s tarry illusion, and as Bea… waits, frozen with inaction, feeling morally opposed to the murder of these majestic beasts.

Suddenly, Ervendio! The elf appears from the dark jungle in time to save Teks’s life as Bertram hypnotizes the rampaging female elephant. Teks kills the female as well as the male — which has been incapacitated to the point of drowning by Bertram’s illusion.

The group calls Old Reyas with another grand fire. He takes the dead elephants back to his nest and honors his promise, but the Revengers are left with a choice — will they sneak into the tower and free the sailors of Teks’s vessel, or will they confront Baybars more directly? Shayjar warns that she has seen Baybars kill an entire legion of warriors with nothing more than a gesture and a few words, and that it would be better to simply swim to the freed ship and leave this island behind. But the Revengers believe they cannot man the freed ship alone.

The Revengers travel back through the jungle. Teks’s aura sight reveals that Ervendio, too, has a missing piece of memory. Ervendio’s elven memory reveals a piece of blackness surrounded his meeting with Bertram, back in the tavern in Grudgewood, and the elf immediately surmises that Bertram is somehow responsible. The exact cause is a mystery, and only a psychic surgeon can reveal the truth to them both.

For now, the Revengers rest in the jungle and prepare to approach Babyars’s tower. The necormancer and his daughter Melisende await within. Will our heroes assault the tower directly? Or, attempt a stealthy excursion of the imprisoned seamen? Only time will tell!

XP
Group Awards
Elephants: 4000
An Agreement with Reyas: 600
Individual Awards 1150

Individual Totals
Bea 1900 (What Is A Life Worth? 750, Group 1150)
Bertram 1900 (Do Elephants Have Souls? 750, Group 1150)
Ervendio 1900 (Nick of Time 750, Group 1150)
Teks 1900 (Gored 750, Group 1150)

LOOT
1 freed merchant vessel

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i2: This Is Their First Rodeo
meanwhile, in the Middlemarsh...

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In the Middlemarsh, humans and other downtrodden beings have heard tell of Grudgewood, a land welcoming the poor, huddled masses of Urth. A small trio of adventurers have found work escorting pilgrims headed west through the swampy mire. Berp, a kobold warrior, Wooly Booly, a bullywug scout, and Munch, a vegepygmy forest lord, escort a band of merchants safely through Vile’s Fen to the safety of Sarruh’s Rest Inn.

Upon arrival at Sarruh’s Rest, the trio are called upon by Martinique, a young lizardfolk girl. She is desperate for help by heroes who still believe in true love! But the mercenaries blow her off and head inside the Inn for a drink instead.

It is near sunset and the Inn is bustling. Wooly Booly hears rumors of strange undead that roam the fen at night, and of a singing spirit that lures travelers to their death. The innkeep has locked his daughter (Martinique!) in her room to keep her away from the spirit — just last week she went into the swamp alone seeking it out, and had to dragged back.

Intrigued, Wooly Booly and Berp creep up to Martinique’s room. Through the door, she tells them that her father wants her to marry some “drudgey noble”, but she has fallen in love with the singer in the swamp. She has never seen him, but surely he is beautiful! She passes them a letter through a crack at the bottom of the door and begs them to deliver it to the mysterious singer.

The trio head into the fen at night. They can hear the singer somewhere out there — his low, tenorous voice seeming both near and far at the very same time. They avoid mud pits and rat swarms, and — though Berp is wounded — easily dispatch a few wandering ghouls. Wandering with little purpose, they discover the remains of a cabin on a sandy hill near the edge of Lake Winnosett — guarded by seven wandering zombies.

As Wooly Booly reconnoiters the cabin, Berp catches sight of a tall creature on a skiff making his way through the swamp. It is the strange singer! He appears to be quite all — seven feet tall! — with a long, needling nose and a great thatch of hair. As the trio considers what to do, he skiffs through the bog and out of sight. Though he is not far, they decide to take refuge in a tree for the night.

Upon waking, the sun fills the bog with an eerie orange light. The singing — so pervasive the night before — is gone. Berp catches a snake in a snare he set overnight. A trumpet sounds from the west — the direction of the road — but the trio decide to head toward the cabin and wipe out the zombies there. Munch lets loose a mighty, chest-beating roar, to call forth the monkeys of the swamp to assist them.

But it also calls forth seven more swampy ghouls! The ghouls surround the tree the trio has taken refuge in. They slowly climb the tree, and though the adventurers pelt them from above, the undead creatures finally reach them. Berp is set upon and killed by a ghoul, but the brave kobold manages to fall on the ghoul, taking it out with him. The others continue to crawl upward, surrounding Munch and Wooly Booly….

XP
Ghouls: 1050

Individual Awards
Berp 350
Munch 350
Wooly Booly 350

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Bertram's Notes - Post Sri Raji

teks.jpgAt sea for several days….the mushroom craft ran aground as we sought shelter from an incoming storm in a nearby lagoon.

We were waylaid by strange coral-like creatures, and discovered an older wreck with captain and mate still aboard. They had run aground in the same manner. We took on the mate, a thri-kreen by the name of Teks Tik

On making landfall, we were approached by a female dwarf calling herself ‘Melisende’ who took us to her father, the wizard Baybars. They served us salt, a dwarven custom, and warned us of the dangers on the island. They then tasked us with finding the feather and/or talon of the Roc, an avian raptor of immense proportion. My guess is these items are components for some sort of spell, the nature of which remains unknown. My first instinct tells me this island is a place of exile, and that Baybars would like to escape as much as we would.

We set off the following day, and were waylaid by two mostly-dead giants who offered us a most unacceptable and less-than-fresh meal. I would not take the salt bond here, and those that did are paying the price in more ways than one. My illusions managed to distract them long enough, but I have a feeling they will return, albeit somewhat singed and angrier.

Now we are starting to question the intentions of our newfound friends in the bluff below the Roc’s nest. I felt the Thri-Kreen enter my mind and poke around, a most unsettling feeling, and he did the same to Melisande. He told me, in so many words, my memories have been taken away, maybe even some aren’t my own. Exposed, I have started to question the very ground I stand on. The nature of my study in magic has led me to do the same to others, I of all people should be able to tell the difference between what is real! Yet I have felt more and more that the world I knew when I left me mum and dad isn’t the world I live in today. In the moment, I shrugged off his statement and tried to temper my frustration. What gives him the right to access my thoughts? Maybe it too, is a cultural thing, like close-talking dwarves, or Elves wearing too much perfume.

Perhaps I should educate him that Gnomes are quite opposed to having their minds exposed. He may as well have slapped me in chains. The indignity! Maybe I should throw up my robes and let him have a go at me knob and bullocks? Go on! And yet, I have so many questions that I feel too proud to ask.

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35: Between a Roc and a Hard Place
our heroes run from a pudding

The Revengers defeat the two undead giants — called rom — with one of the giants cut down and another burned by Bea’s fireballs. But not before a wild surge causes a black pudding to erupt from one of the giants.

A blow from Proteus’s axe easily cleaves the pudding in two — creating two equally powerful puddings. The Revengers flee, clambering up a ravine, leaving the puddings to roam the island. Some of those who partook of the giants’ clammy meats feel nauseous and sick after leaving the roms’ den.

Making camp for the night, Bertram is disturbed by this series of events, and Bea is sad she couldn’t keep some of the pudding for further study. Jongle puts on a puppet show of their most recent adventure. Melisende attempts to flirt with Proteus, Ervendio, Teks — almost anyone, really! — but none of the Revengers respond in kind, or even notice very much.

The next day, the group continues through the jungle. As they reach the base of the roc’s crag — a sheer 300-foot rocky tower — Melisende indicates that the great beast’s nest waits at the top, but she will not ascend with them. As the Revengers discuss how to reach it — or if they will simply seek a discarded feather down below — Shayjar, the servant of Melisende and Baybars appears. She has followed them through the jungle to warn them that Melisende and Baybars want the heroes to slay the roc for their own evil ends, and that Baybars himself is responsible for the colenites that trapped Teks’s ship and sank the Revengers’. Melisende says Shayjar is lying.

Teks uses his aural sight and sees that Melisende is evil, while Shayjar is good. He also discovers the lingering effects of a mind wipe on Bertram. But, having just met this thri-kreen, the others aren’t yet sure if they can trust him. Bea hypnotizes Melisende and asks a serious of questions. They discover that, while Melisende doesn’t wish the Revengers harm, neither does she have their best interests at heart. She wants them to kill the roc because the great old bird is an adversary of her and her father.

When the hypnosis wears off, Melisende flees into the jungle. Shayjar wants to leave with the Revengers if they can find a way off of the island, and offers her own 60’ rope if they wish to climb the crag and speak with the roc.

The Revengers, at the foot of a great crag, must now decide how to proceed….

XP
Group Awards
Rom, 10,000
Pudding Escape, 700
Melisende or Shayjar?, 700
Group Total, 11,400 Individual Awards 1900

Individual Totals
Bea 2650 (Black Pudding Bea 750, Group 1900)
Bertram 2650 (Giant Dreams 750, Group 1900)
Ervendio 2650 (Pudding Avoidant 750, Group 1900)
Jongle 2650 (Puppet Show 750, Group 1900)
Proteus 2650 (Pudding Slicer 750, Group 1900)
Teks 2650 (Aural Vision 750, Group 1900)

LOOT
none

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34: A New Island
our heroes are run aground

The Revengers linger on Sri Raji for several weeks as Khalid — he who was once a dwarf — grows a boat for them and passes into a new state of being. Paqi, the young steward thought lost in the towers of the Great University, reappears, near death. He brings a spellbook once belonging to the young Maharajah Arijani, and he collapses. Ervendio saves him from death, and he professes his greatest desire — to go with the Revengers when they leave Sri Raji, and to travel alongside Billie.

(( Billie would rather not go anywhere, thank you very much. ))

Jongle nearly loses himself to sadness, grief, and drink in the absence of Minja. Proteus brings him back from the brink, and the Revengers embark on another sea voyage. Proteus communes with Ruat, the first piece of the Rod of 7 Parts, which indicates that 1) he is very sick, and 2) the 2nd piece of the rod — stolen by Jad — is to the south-southeast. They steer their ship in that direction.

On the sea for several days, the Revengers spy a storm coming their way. They take refuge in a nearby lagoon, but their gourd-ship is quickly overtaken by coelenites, coral-based creatures that destroy their vegetable-boat. There is another ship in the lagoon, equally stranded, and its crew has long since abandoned it. The ship’s dwarven captain refuses to abandon ship, but the other passenger, a thri-kreen named Teks Tik, joins the Revengers as they make for the nearby island.

They are met Melisende, a dwarven woman who warns them of the island’s dangers: the coelenites, jungle-ghuls, and a roc who lives on the mountain. She leads them to meet her father, Baybars, a dwarven mage who has built a tower on this island where he pursues his arcane studies and experiments. Baybars and Melisende serve the Revengers a late-night lunch — including a salt-bond — and tell them that the roc could be the key to their escape from the island. With a feather, the coelenites could be driven way from the one remaining ship; with a talon, the coelenites could be destroyed. The Revengers agree to head to the mountain.

In the morning, Baybars gives the Revengers three potions to help them on their journey. Melisende offers to guide them to the roc’s nest, and they head into the jungle. Near the end of the first day, they stumble down a ravine and discover the hovel of two rom, undead giants who invite them to dinner. Teks, Proteus, Paqi, and Melisende eat the cold pork offered to them, while Ervendio and Jongle only pretend to do so; Bertram and Bea refuse to eat. The rom are offended, and one of them punches Bea, nearly killing her. A battle ensues, and the fate of the Revengers remains undecided…

XP
Group Awards
Shipwrecked Redux, 600
Roc Hunt, 600
Group Total 1200, Individual Awards 600

Individual Totals
Bea 1350 (Giant-Punched 750, Group 600)
Bertram 1350 (Librarian 750, Group 600)
Ervendio 1350 (Navigator 750, Group 600)
Jongle 1350 (Heartbroke 750, Group 600)
Proteus 1350 (Oarman 750, Group 600)
Teks 1350 (Welcome Aboard 750, Group 600)

LOOT
potion of climbing
potion of flying
potion of giant strength
one gourd boat, called Gordy

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33.2 Hello, Goodbye
khalid says goodbye, paqi says hello...

The island sleeps and Khalid’s roots spread deep into the island.

He can sense his companions sleeping at the base of his trunk. His spores reach out to touch each of their minds in turn.

“Bertram,” he whispers, his old dwarve’s face appearing in the littles gnome’s dream, “I am growing a ship for you. Its hull will be great gourd, and vines will be its rigging. But it will take time. I see into your heart, Bertram. The library draws you. It will take three weeks, Bertram, to grow your ship. Three weeks to read and learn. And when your journeys are done, the library will be here, still. Goodbye.”

“Ervendio,” he whispers, his old dwarve’s face appearing in the tall elf’s dream, “I am growing a ship for you. Its hull will be great gourd, and vines will be its rigging. But it will take time. I see into your heart, Ervendio. You miss your home and your people, but there is much good you can do on Urth. Follow your quest, but do not forget those who follow you. Guide them with your strength, but also with your compassion. Show them how to be good. Start here, on this island. Tell them of their new Maharaja and teach them love. Goodbye.”

“Proteus,” he whispers, his old dwarve’s face appearing in the big man’s dream, “I am growing a ship for you. Its hull will be great gourd, and vines will be its rigging. But it will take time. I see into your heart, Proteus. It is a tiger’s heart. Take up the key, Proteus. It will hold you to your path, even if your heart grows wild. Goodbye”

“Bea,” he whispers, his old dwarve’s face appearing in the young woman’s dream, “I am growing a ship for you. Its hull will be great gourd, and vines will be its rigging. But it will take time. I see into your heart, Bea. Be kind and patient with her. Yours is a destiny far greater than simple love. There is a wildness in you that frightens me, even as I am now. Your power could shake the very foundations of the Urth. Learn to control it that you might wield it well. Goodbye.”

Jongle and Minja, he senses, are further away. His roots reach out through the jungle. His spores search. He finds them.

But this, he should not interrupt. Instead, his spores reach out. The smells of the jungle seem to grow softer around them, until it is a sweet perfume. The warm air seems to carry on it a melody. Perhaps it is music. Perhaps just the breeze. The sounds and smells speak just below the edge of the senses. They describe gentle nights at home even as they hint at the possibilities of adventure.

Minja slips away into the jungle, leaving only her mask behind. Jongle collects it, puts it on, and lies there on the ground. His nose catches a whiff of a sickly sweet aroma, earthy and pungent, the unmistakable scent of Mushdwarf spores.

“K-Khalid? Is that you?”

“It is, my friend. I…overheard.”

Khalid’s spores drift through the night air for a long moment

“Is it possible, Jongle, that you, too, do not understand? You say that wish her to be free. Perhaps this marriage is its own small prison, loving though it is. She cannot be your balance if you overwhelm her. Perhaps she must find her freedom alone, before she can be with you. Perhaps she will be back, without any need for that mask you hold.”

“Perhaps…” Jongle mutters. “But you know better than anyone that I’m leaving this place, and I can never come back. I’ll probably never see her again. Just like I’ll never see you…”

Jongle lets the spores dance and sputter around him, as the two old friends share tears and a tired laugh that seem to sum up their experiences together, until the spores finally dissipate and there is silence. Jongle gets up and looks around the clearing for the last time.

“G’bye,” he says.

A dense quiet settles around what was once the temple of Maharajah Arijani. It is broken occasionally by atonal plops as strange, spongy forms drop from the great fungal tree that has grown up there.

Over night and into day, these forms pick themselves up from the ground — myconid fungalfolk born from Khalid’s great gift and great sacrifice — and move into the jungle, spreading the word that things have changed in Sri Raji.

A mysterious gourd surfaces in the river near Tvashtri. It will take several weeks for it it grow and ripen into a sea-faring vessel. Until then, the Revengers are free to enjoy their time in Sri Raji as they wish. The jungles — and the settlements — still hold certain dangers, but the threat of Arijani has been vanquished.

Bertram was aware of some tension between Minja and Jongle, he had tried to assure her that they would seek a peaceful solution. The Revengers, he was afraid, we’re not very good diplomats. He was appalled by their behavior before the maharaja. God or not, they did not know proper etiquette, and did not respect Bertram enough to speak on their behalf. Minja was right, many times Bertram felt ridiculed by the Revengers. Jongle and Khalid had conspired to steal from him; he heard their stifled laughs when he stumbled in the thick of the fight with the maharaja’s shadow.

If Proteus couldn’t trust Bertram to handle himself, would he trust his advice pertaining to the key?

He was most upset about Khalid. Khalid had made a great sacrifice, and Bertram wondered if he would ever know his friend again as he was when they first met. He wondered if Khalid would be able to hold on to his memories, or if he would eventually succumb to the stripping away of his identity and lose himself. Was the maharaja not too different from Khalid when he began his rule here?

Khalid felt he was doing them a favor, using his newfound influence to make incredible things—a ship, a fungal palace, and a new wing of the library? Bertram felt that Khalid’s decision to keep the island’s population isolated was a mistake. He wanted there to be an exchange of ideas here with the people of Grudgewood. "Khalid, there is forgotten knowledge in the University. Maths, forgotten languages, taxonomy of unknown species, medical remedies. Much was lost in the Great Disaster, technology which could make lives better back home. Allow these libraries to be linked and exchange knowledge. Help me find the lost scholar and send him to Grudgewood.

Help me lift the veil that exists in the minds of those whom the Gods have manipulated.
“Do you think it was fair what Psilofyr did to you? Do you think you were free to choose? I don’t. It’s unfair to expect a mortal to behave as a fungus! It’s not right! And to punish you with this fate! Oh Khalid…” Bertram moaned as his lip quivered. He put his hand on the giant stalk before him and leaned into it.

The ancient gods were known for their vanity; taking mortals as their children. Both Psilofyr and Kali experimented with making sentients in their own image. Now, what old rivalries would be reignited? Would Psilofyr’s exile of Khalid be enough punishment for Kali? Or was this just to be an extension of a larger war that was pulling in old gods and new?

Bertram left Khalid to go back to the Great University and study. He transcribed what he could translate with Billie’s help into notes for the Hall of Records. There was more knowledge here than he had time to disseminate, which is why it was so important to him that the scholars had help to study and compare notes. The people of Sri Raji would likely experience a great deal of shock with the recent transformation of the island. Bertram want to be sure there were adequate answers for those that sought them. It was more than he could have given Minja, three thousand years of history at their fingertips at the blink of an eye. What they keep? What would they reject? Bertram didn’t know if Khalid was prepared to deal with these questions. Would Sidrathi go along with the continued isolation he had secretly fought to overcome? Would the Ajiht accept a God that bore no resemblance to themselves? These questions lingered with Bertram as he studied. He was hoping the answers were here, in the library. Instead he was met with endless records of the maharaja’s land and mineral wealth.
“What am I missing here?” Bertram sunk down into his chair and looked up at birds flying between the m shelves far above his desk. The words on the page before him twisted into a jumbled mass. He was getting tired.

He had never taken much stock in divination, but hadn’t everything in that fortune teller’s reading come true? Bertram stared at the loose leaves at the bottom of his cup of tea.

Lost in the tea leaves, Bertram doesn’t hear the shuffling feet behind him, the soft moan, or even the quiet thud of a knee hitting the floor. It’s not until the young man coughs that Paqi — soot-covered, emaciated, nearly-dead Paqi — gets Bertram’s attention.

“S-sorry I’m late, sir — ran into a spot of t-trouble — oh!”

Paqi stumbles to the floor of the Great Library and collapses, one small dusty time tumbling out of his hands. The cover is inscribed in the Sri Raji script still impenetrable to Bertram, but as the pages fall open Bertram recognizes some characters and words — the language of magic being recognizable in any script.

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33.1 Minja's Leavetaking
jongle & minja consciously uncouple...

Minja walks from the new mushroom god of Sri Raji, shoulders high, wiping the tears from her eyes. Her marriage … annulled? As if none of this had ever happened? But it had happened! She had seen the Maharajah turned to terrible mist, she had seen his skin fall lifelessly to the ground … but before that, she had seen him swat away her husband and his friends as if they were rag dolls, she had heard him say that he preferred to eat his meat raw and still living. Oh, what is life!

Would she return to Pakat? No! She had told grandmum and grandpap that she was leaving with her husband, leaving for a life of adventure! She couldn’t go crawling back, a ruined woman, bound for the rice paddies. Perhaps she would go to Muladi, the big city, where she could find work as … what, a weaver? A ceramic seller? She would most likely wind up on the street, doing who-knows-what for her next meal. She had given up everything for Jongle, and now she had nothing.

Except … she had heard him. Walking up the stairs, quietly chastising that big muscly one for speaking ill of her. He loved her, didn’t he? She had silently prayed to the Maharjah to be pregnant. Now she hoped that she wasn’t. Or, did she? If she was, it would be simple — she would stay with Jongle, she would be his wife.

Or would she? Khalid — or, what used to be Khalid — would need priestesses. Perhaps she could stay here. Things would be different now. Kali was a terrible goddess of birth and destruction. Khalid spoke often of the beauty of life, but never of death. Perhaps things could be good here?

Minja had walked throughout the ruined city absentmindedly, and now she stood on the edge of the jungle. Those terrible snake-women had been driven out when the temple fell, but even with a new lord of the island the jungle was a dangerous place. Would anyone come after her? Should she just wander into the jungle blindly?

Oh, where on Urth was Jongle?

Jongle watched Minja go. He was shocked that she would just run away after everything Khalid had sacrificed. The goblin was ready to abandon his friends and quest just to spare her life, and now she was leaving? Because of some false god? Man, was she really that thick? How could he love someone so dense?

But she was so cute. And honest, and earnest. But not so loyal it seemed. Maybe she would turn around. Maybe she would realize her mistake and come back to him.

No. An hour passed. As the others tried to make sense of what happened to Khalid and his new gigantic, godly form, Jongle set out to find her. Not to win her back, per se, but to talk and to make sure she was safe. Because although he was fond of her, he hated more than anything else the thought that Khalid sacrificed himself to preserve their relationship, whether or not that was exactly true. He grabbed a quill and paper from Bertram and began jotting down a stream-of-consciousness letter on his way to the jungle.

Dear Minja,

I won’t say I love you. I won’t try to convince you to stay with me. I won’t do any of that romantic stuff. Things are only gonna get harder from here on out. This is a life of adventure we live. A life filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows. This is what you might call the lowest low.

I can’t see my friend Khalid anymore. He’s a big old mushroom now. He’s a god. He’s your god? The fact that my friend can become your god, and that’s supposed to mean something to you… Explain that one to me. He ain’t really a god. He’s just Khalid. Just like the previous Maharaja was simply an evil, sadistic tiger man who manipulated your people. It ain’t your fault you were taught to believe in him. But if you can’t see now that he was just a glorified thug, then I don’t know what to tell you, honey.

Anyway, there’s a lot more I can say, that maybe I’ll explain to you some day, or maybe I won’t. I guess that depends on the choice you make. You can stay here, and live out a perfectly good life without me. You’ll probably find a decent halfling fella, a cobbler, or a fishmonger, who don’t mind looking at you without a mask on. Or you could leave everything you know behind, and embark on a life full of violence and sorrow, triumph and mirth. It ain’t easy. You might die. I might die. But we’d have each other for a time, and that’s something.

All you need to know is I ain’t staying here. I made a promise to Khalid, and I ain’t gonna break it. I’m leaving forever. So do us both a favor and think about it real hard. And I’ll accept whatever decision you make.

With the note crumpled up in his pocket, Jongle marched through the foliage for what seemed like a good two hours, as the sky began to darken, before he came upon Minja curled up in a ball under a small shrub. With a few utterances he made himself invisible and placed the note beside her, then perched himself in a tree.

He figured if she continued heading south towards Muladi, he’d follow her to safety, sight unseen. Or reveal himself if she opted to go back towards the temple.

Minja wakes and blinks her eyes slowly.

Where is she? Sleeping outside? Where is — oh.

Oh, right.

She sits up and sighs dejectedly. She sees the note folded beside her, touches it and looks around hopefully — but, no. Jongle is nowhere to be seen.

He wouldn’t be though, would he? The scamp. Leaving her a love poem as a form of apology, letting her read it and return to him on her own terms. So like him.

“Dear Minja,” she reads aloud, smiling in spite of herself. “I won’t say I - I won’t -

She frowns.

“I won’t say I love you,” she says. Her shoulders slump and she reads the rest, crying silently. She folds it and puts it in a fold of her tunic.

“‘Think about it real hard,’ he says,” she says. “‘Find a decent cobbler,’ he says! As if I’m only fit to be someone’s wife. Well.”

Minja stands and puts on her ceramic mask. She slips into the shadows of the jungle — and disappears.

“We’ll see about that,” she says — and not another sound is heard from her as she disappears into the shadows of the jungle.

Jongle is flabbergasted. That’s not what’s supposed to happen! He hops down from his perch and scans the surroundings.

“Hey,” he cries aloud. “Where’d you go?”

Minja stops at the sound of Jongle’s voice. She hesitates.

Without stepping from the shadows, she responds in a sharp tone: “What.”

She winces at the sound of her own voice.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean - well, I’m not sorry, I -

She sighs. “What is it, Jongle? Is it something that wasn’t in your letter?”

The two goblins stand in the jungle invisible to each other.

“I don’t—I don’t know.” He pauses.

“Look, I was ready to run away with you, Minja. I was gonna leave my friends and my quest behind. And now, I don’t know know that I’d do that anymore. And that makes me feel real crummy.”

“I guess we’re pretty different. I don’t see how you can still respect and revere someone like that Maharaja, even though he was clearly a no-good fiend! I mean, it’s preposterous!”

“So yeah…I don’t know where I’m goin’ with this, but? Where are you goin’?”

“Somewhere new,” she says. She is a voice in the dark.

“Maybe the Maharajah was no-good, but — he was still the Maharajah. It does not matter that he was a … a fiend, as you say. He was the Maharajah. One should not need to be convinced of the law. The law is the law. I don’t know if you understand how difficult, how … crummy it feels to not be able to make you understand. It is not up to us to decide what is right.

“I do not believe you had any intention to speak respectfully with him. I believe — like Khalid said — you would honor and abide by his decisions only if they agreed with your own.

“I am afraid that you will only listen to me if I am saying something you already agree with. There was nothing in your letter that belied affection or esteem. Only … disappointment.

“Your friend Khalid is the Maharajah now. That is … strange. He said that our marriage was annulled. That is also strange. It doesn’t feel true to me, or fair, but it is not my place to decide what is. That is a responsibility for others to bear.”

There is a quiet pause, and then she continues:

“Do you … want me with you, Jongle? Or, are you relieved that your friend has given us a new choice?”

“Look, Minja. I didn’t wanna just write romantic poetry, or serenade you with a song, and gloss over everything that just happened. I could do that, and mean it, but somethin’ like this will probably happen again.

“This is gonna sound…intense. But me and my friends kill people. Bad people. And monsters. And we decide what’s bad and what’s good, and when the law matters and when it doesn’t. We ain’t murder hobos or nothin’…But if a sadistic demigod wants to kill us when all we wanna do is get off the island, then we ain’t gonna let it happen.

“We can’t! We’ve got more important stuff to do. I mean, we’re on this big old quest to gather the seven parts of this magical rod. It’s too much to explain, and we don’t even know the half of it, but the fate of civilized world practically depends on us, so…”

“Basically what I’m tryin’ to say is, unless you can accept these things, you ain’t gonna be happy with me. I love you, Minja, I do. But I think I really love the Minja who ain’t yet come out of her shell. The one behind the mask. The girl you keep repressing with all these rules and laws and gods. And I think that’s the only you that could handle this lifestyle of mine.”

Jongle ends his invisibility spell and comes out into the clearing.

“When Khalid anulled our marriage, I think he was tryin’ to do us a favor. To really decide if we wanted to be together. And then you walked. That’s why I ain’t tryin’ to win you back. You gotta decide for yourself. You gotta decide if you wanna be this kinda whacko, crazy person you’re lookin’ at—an adventurer. You gotta decide if you wanna be with Jongle G. Janglemancer.”

“You think you are a god, like your friend,” Minja says, “but you are just a man. I … do not think I will let men tell me what to do anymore.”

Minja speaks no more. She is gone — but her ceramic mask falls from a tree, landing at Jongle’s feet.

Jongle lets out a sigh of sadness and frustration. He picks up Minja’s crude little mask and slumps to his butt, running his fingers across the mask’s lips.

“Control her? I don’t wanna control her. She don’t get it does she? I want her to be free!

“Think I’m a god? Feh! I’m the god of comedy, and what a joke this is!

“My heart… Guess that curse wasn’t lifted after all.”

Jongle dons the mask and sobs. As he lies there on the ground, his nose catches a whiff of a sickly sweet aroma, earthy and pungent, the unmistakable scent of Mushdwarf spores.

“K-Khalid? Is that you?”

View
33: Web of Illusion
our heroes face a demigod

Entering the temple of Arijani from a secret entrance revealed by a defeated naga, the Revengers discover a giant, golden egg. An invisible force field keeps them from touching it, and they reluctantly move further into the temple. They discover a series of strange rooms and potential traps — a burning, golden disc, a pool of acid, mosaics and bas reliefs featuring mind flayers and vampires.

Jongle, having flown effortless across the acid pool, is nearly frozen to death by an ice storm, but more dangerous than that is the freezing that occurs in the heart of Minja. When the Revengers face an illusory form of Maharajah Arijani, only Bertram behaves with any deference to the Lord of Sri Raji. The illusion shatters when brushed by Proteus, instead becoming two shadow fiends. Though the shadows are destroyed by the Revengers, so is Minja’s confidence in her husband and his friends.

When Bea extinguishes a magical flame and the Revengers discovers the temple’s hidden second level, Minja stays behind. Bertram consoles her, but Minja believes the rest of the party treats Bertram — and her — like a joke. But, she realizes that as Jongle’s wife, she must do as he wishes. She consents to rejoining the group.

Set upon by an invisible group of Dark Sisters, assassins of Kali, Khalid is almost strangled. Bertram is nearly turned to clay when his attempt to cast phantom armor on himself causes a surge of wild magic, but his force of will prevents the transformation from taking place. Three of the sisters are cut down/cast aflame, and one is choked out by Khalid — but not before sending them toward the throne room of Maharajah Arijani.

Facing the dark lord himself, the Revenger’s martial strength and spellcasting prowess proves ineffective — in the face of a demigod and divine avatar, their blows glance off and their magic is resisted. Only a sacrifice of one of their own will win the day, and Khalid — wielding Ravanna’s Bane — launches himself at the man with tiger head. With a single prick of his skin, Arijani deflates — magic mist pouring out of him — and Khalid finds himself before his god, Psilofyr.

Psilofyr is disappointed that Khalid has turned to violence again and again, but recognizes that a great evil has been destroyed. Psilofyr pronounces that, since the last lord of Sri Raji spent 3,000 years trapped on the island, perhaps the next one will also learn something from time spent bound to the land. He makes Khalid his Living Avatar on Urth, giving Khalid power to allow any to come and go from Sri Raji — except for Khalid himself, who can never leave again.

Khalid demolishes the walls of the terrible temple, and he passes possession of the First Key on to Proteus. Minja asks if Khalid — now divine, now the only one whose supersedes that of her husband — will allow her to stay on the island. Khalid instead annuls their marriage, leaving the issue for Jongle and Minja to decide. Minja tears the matrimonial bracelet from her wrist and walks from the temple.

The Revengers, minus one, are now free to leave Sri Raji and continue their quest for the Keys. The precise manner of their travel from Sri Raji remains to be determined, as well as who, exactly, will accompany them…

XP
Group Awards
Shadow Fiends, 4000
Dark Sisters, 6000
Maharajah Arijani, 11000
Group Total 21000, Individual Awards 3500

Individual Totals
Bea 4250 (Dispeller of Fire 750, Group 3500)
Bertram 4250 (Consoler of the Lonely 750, Group 3500)
Ervendio 4250 (Prayer Circle 750 , Group 3500)
Jongle 4250 (Free As A Bird? 750, Group 3500)
Khalid 4250 (Mushroom King 750, Group 3500)
Proteus 4250 (Key Master 750, Group 3500)

LOOT
none

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