AD&D - New World

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?”

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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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Bertram's Notes on Sri Raji

ravannahsbane.jpg
Vistani- gypsy nomads, strange dialect of common. It appears they share many traditions with humans of the Westlands. Song, dance, and divination using tarokka cards are key elements of culture. They live in communal tents. These tents are constructed of heavy hide of some as yet unknown creature, and not fabrics that you would see in human encampments in the Middlemarsh. Food is seasoned with complex blend of wild varieties of thyme, mint, something like cardomom, and ginger. I would not have expected all of these to have grown natively on the island, nor would I have expected to find human nomads here. They drink a dark green liquor that has a nose of dill, and packs a punch of pickle brine and hemp, which masks the astringency in a somewhat unpleasant way—but drinking it seems to be a right of passage of sorts among guests. Their presence confirms what I read in the library at the Great University. At some point, some 3,000 years ago, Sri Raji participated in trade with the outside world.

Mists of Sri Raji-at some point before the Great Disaster, the island became enshrouded by mists which made navigation to and from the island impossible. Any outsiders that somehow found themselves in Sri Raji were taken before the Maharaja and never seen again. My initial intuition was that the mists were magical in nature, but that does not appear to be the case. This actually makes sense. Early gnomes sought to use natural features of the land to camouflage their dwellings, and while they were proficient in illusion magics to obscure their location—it was only used as a last resort; as permanent illusions emitted a great deal of magical energy which served as a beacon for their enemies.

Maharaja Arijani- Early texts describe him as the son of a living Avatar of the god Ravanna, and a priestess of Kali. He was hidden by his mother amongst the peasant caste, and eventually led a rebellion that swept the island. According to legend, he trapped his father on this plane and was granted a wish to spare his life. In that moment he wished for command over the island allied himself with the Dark Sisterhood (a group of assassins serving the goddess Kali), went back on his word and killed his father, cursing the island and its ruler to millennia of isolation. According to our source in Pakat (a band of halfling lycanthropes that call themselves Ajiht), the Maharaja is now a living avatar of the goddess Kali. He is never seen in public, but rumors persist that he is quite handsome. Representations of his countenance are seen in artwork, reliefs, tapestry, and currency throughout the city, but in every instance his face is obscured by a shroud…much like the Mists that encircle the island.

Halflings- They are several feet tall, taller than the average gnome, and are generally of medium build. Perhaps they were distant cousins of a shared terrestrial common ancestor?
It is my belief that they are a race entirely unique to the island of Sri Raji. The architecture in the city of Tvashtri is most similar to drawings I have seen of Amaran cities. The technique and skill required to build and maintain these structures is beyond anything I have seen in the Westlands. Their cuisine is nuanced and refined, and represents influences from all over the Urth, which belies a civilization that once had mastery of the sea and took part in trade.

Naga- Intelligent race of serpent people. I have only heard of them in myths and did not believe they existed until today. They spoke the common tongue, and had their own clothes, jewelry, and adornments, as well as a variety of magical scrolls and potions. I can only imagine how they came to be here…perhaps a labyrinth far beneath the island?

Bahru- Abandoned city on the outskirts of the temple of Arijani. Too dangerous to approach at this time, artwork depicting man transforming into tiger on temple reliefs within Bahru.

Lycanthropy- A unique form of lycanthropy exists here, in which those afflicted take the form of the tiger. This transformation is depicted in artwork in several parts of the island.
The Ajiht we believe are the source of this infection. Upon our arrival, we were beset by one, which managed to infect a member of our party. It is said the only cure is death by silver weapon, or destroying the source of the strain.

Ravannah’s Bane- A tiger statuette given to us by the Ajiht, it is actually some form of metal alloy that was recast from an arrowhead. It is said that it has the power to kill the Maharaja, who is by all accounts, a living god.

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i1: Lurkers in the Library
meanwhile, back in the Westlands...

Back in the Westlands, the goblins have taken over the Twelve Barrows. The city is a ruined husk, smoking and burning, and the human survivors are being taken prisoner, outright enslaved, or killed.

At the same time, fractures are appearing in the occupying goblin forces. With the great human threat of the Twelve Barrows eliminated, the goblin armies — not a unified force, but rather multiple forces with allegiances to their local lords — are starting to infight. Rumors abound that the goblins will withdraw soon and the Twelve Barrows — what remains — will be razed to the ground.

As the goblins prepare to pull out entirely, a small squad — Captain Chaz’s Blockheads — is tasked with exploring a library, finding whatever artifacts are left and worth attention. The previous squad sent there was nearly wiped out by a mysterious force, with its lone survivor saying only, the tentacles — the tentacles!, before falling catatonic.

Captain Chaz Cameron, second-born noble of a Cano City family, is in command of the Blockheads: Abe, a sharp-minded rogue; Baldash, Abe’s little brother and a nimble scoundrel in his own right; Corrine, a proud fighter and a woman disguised as a man; Dildo, straightforward warrior born of farming stock; and Zed, charming, handsome, tough, and stupid.

En route to the library, the Blockheads witnessed another goblin captain dragging a human woman by the hair. Just another atrocity of war to some, but Captain Chaz could take no more — he risked his rank and reputation and stopped the captain, incapacitating him and turning him over to his superior officer. The woman, a flower-seller named Branna, had lost her husband and children in the invasion of the city. Chaz took her for his own captive, seeking information on the library, but Branna knew little and did not wish to work with her captors.

Still, Chaz brought her along. The library itself — once a building of knowledge and beauty — was now a ruined shell. Its windows broken and many of its books already stolen and burned, Chaz sent Branna in ahead of the Blockheads. Branna’s first encounter was the corpse of Portia, the librarian, killed days ago by goblin soldiers. Branna told Chaz that the librarian’s body should be burned, in accordance with the Barrow folks’ traditions, and Chaz ordered Zed to see this through.

Heading into the library’s basement, Abe discovered a tunnel leading into a hidden labyrinth. Chaz agains sent Branna first to investigate, forgetting that humans could not see in the dark as goblins can.

The Blockheads discover a lost labyrinth below the library, with twisting tunnels and mysterious tracks indicating the presence of some kind of worm. They hear swordplay in the distance, but as they prepare to venture forward Branna makes a break for the stairs. Captain Chaz stops her, indicating that her presence will be required should any human tomes be found. Branna goes for Chaz’s sword, but fumbles onto it — impaling herself and dying. Chaz instructs Baldash to make a note for Zed to burn this body as well, when he returns.

Exploring the labyrinth further, the Blockheads encounter a terrible carrion crawler, a nine-foot insectoid with a taste for flesh. Though they best this first crawler, they encounter another pair deeper in the labyrinth. Brave Corrine is killed by the crawler even as a band of humans appears — Knights of the Twelve Barrows hiding out in the library’s catacombs.

The knights join in battling the crawlers, but despite Chaz’s demand that they surrender, they attack the goblin invaders. Chaz himself is cut down immediately, and though the Blockheads take down some of the knights in return, it is the Barrowmen who are triumphant. Abe is killed, then Dildo, and finally young Baldash. Only Zed survives, separated from his fellows by Chaz’s command to see to the remains of a human librarian.

The Knights of the Barrow are not seen again. Zed, his squad destroyed, signs up with another goblin troop. Though he will serve a new master in the goblin armies, he will always be a Blockhead at heart.

Because Blockheads Never Forget.

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32.1: The Shepherd
jongle & khalid are faced with a choice...

On the road to the Accursed City, Jongle has a terrible dream … he stands before the old Vistani woman, only her eyes have been clawed out. There are bloody streaks running down her face.

“You! You have stolen my vision! You, who now carries my sight, you are bound to this place! If you leave — though you may live — your heart will surely shatter! This I can still see!”

Jongle awakes with a start, covered in a cold sweat, as Minja, still asleep, curls tightly to his side.

Jongle rifles through his pockets and pulls out the deck of cards. He hadn’t even given them a second thought. It was something he just took. What a fool he was!

Two cards fall to the ground face up. The Thief. The Charlatan. He quickly gathers them and stumbles out into the surrounding jungle. At the edge of a little cliff, he tosses the cards ineffectually out in front of him, and they scatter in the night air.

Looking down he can only see the bloody, eyeless hag cursing him. A horrible pit in his stomach tells him precisely what the tragedy will be. How foolish he was to think he could actually be happy. Or normal. And not doomed to a succession of calamities and failures. Was his laughter not a mask, a pitiful coping mechanism, a fraud? A desperate attempt to keep the unconquerable fear and sadness at bay.

Jongle wipes vomit from his lips and slowly walks back to the camp like a prisoner shuffling to his execution.

Khalid sits down in the Naga hut and rests for moment. I wonder if we could have avoided killing the thing. Sent it home somehow, to that terrible maze instead. I would like to be done with killing.

He pulls the first key from its pouch and holds it for a moment, closing its eyes and concentrating. What can you tell me, old friend?

The key is cool in Khalid’s hands. It grows warmer as he meditates on it. Not hot — but pleasantly, familiarly warm.

A voice comes to Khalid, as if from particularly far away.

This is a place of Law. Like the other. More tenuous, but — safe.

Stay here. Heal yourself. Grow stronger.

Khalid thinks on this, and then puts the wand back in its pouch. Next he picks up the dice. He holds them in his hand. And what are you?

He rolls them.

Khalid has rolled the Dice of Certain Wagering. Their result will always be whatever the roller desires.

Khalid pockets the dice. There is something comforting to him about their non-randomness. An order that soothe him. He gets up from his meditations and walks out into the jungle.

Emerging form the hut, he sees Jongle standing apart from the group, looking shaken. The goblin seems to be staring back the way the group had come and the normally jaunty set of his shoulders was replaced with a soft slump.

Khalid walks next to him, and, without speaking, releases a small puff of spores, connecting his mind to Jongle’s.

What is the trouble, my friend? You seem not to be yourself.

Suddenly, the image of the eyeless hag is replaced by a beardy mushroom man. Coughing, Jongle shrinks back and swats away the spores. He tries to resist the mental probe, but Khalid presses, and asks the question again.

Of the Revengers, Jongle had always found most in common with Khalid. They seemed to share a warped sense of humor at one point, and Jongle respected his courage from the moment they met in Scalf’s horrible tower. And despite the fact that Khalid was becoming less and less like himself as time went on, and much less…relateable, Jongle still felt a certain ease with the dwarfshroom.

_It—it’s bad. Real bad. I screwed up bad, Khalid. I stole those old hag’s cards. I thought she was, like, a ghost or somethin’ and wouldn’t miss ’em! _

But now she’s talkin’ to me in my dreams! Sayin’ I’m cursed if I ever leave the island, and some horrible tragedy is gonna befall me. She said my heart will shatter! You know what means, Khalid, don’t ya?

Jongle’s mouth is silently agape, his hands pressing hard on Khalid’s shoulders.

I…I can’t go through with this. You can’t tell no one, but I gotta scram. Me and Minja. We’re gonna stay on the island. We’re gonna run away, and… I can’t go through with this, Khalid!

That is indeed a fearsome thing… Khalid responds. …The cards? Do you still have them?

The cards? No…No, I threw ‘em away in the jungle last night! I don’t want ‘em! It ain’t like I even care about those cards! I just took ‘em! Stupid! I’m so stupid! I’m a genius…but I’m really stupid!

I have an idea, thinks Khalid, but you must trust me.

Khalid kneels at the edge of the jungle and whispers in to the dirt, summoning something up and out of the loam.

Khalid bends low and whispers to the creature, describing the cards and their location. “Bring them to me,” he commands. “As many as you can find.”

What are you doin’, Khalid? Don’t get the cards back! Are you crazy! You wanna be cursed too?!

From the earth, mud, and rock of the jungle a humanoid form rises. It is faceless but for two shiny pricks that appear to serve as eyes. It regards Khalid for a brief moment, then turns to its appointed task.

The creature melts into the earth and seems to slide itself down the steep ravine where Jongle tossed the cards. The elemental melds, folds, and slides barely under the earth — the near-featureless face never disappearing — as the tiny rectangles of the tarokka deck are slowly gathered.

The elemental moves slowly, but after several minutes a pile of cards — dirty, some creased — has appeared at the base of the ravine. The elemental turns to look back up toward Khalid and Jongle, and then — with the sound of a collapsing structure — the elemental collapses, Khalid’s conjuring expired.

Several more cards erupt from the former elemental, floating down to join the pile of several dozen cards — apparently, all 54 accounted for.

The cards have all landed face-down, save for one: The Shepherd.

“This card calls forth the devotion and dedication of friends and allies. It marks those who are loyal companions and devoted followers. Such people watch over those around them, just as a shepherd watches over the flock.

“On the other side of the coin, this card is a dark and dangerous force of evil. It marks the falling of a trusted friend, either accidentally or purposefully. It suggest that too much trust or responsibility has been placed upon someone unworthy to bear such a burden.”

I think, perhaps, we are being sent a message, Jongle, thinks Khalid. Though if it is my God or yours or the jungle itself that sends it, I do not know.

Trade me. The cards for the these dice. They will land as you wish them to land—a measure of control over your destiny in exchange for for this terrible certainty

I will take on the curse along with the cards. I will kill this Maharaja, if we can find an opportunity. And I will stay here. A shepherd to these people.

Only, promise me. When you leave this place, you will find these terrible keys and keep them safe.

Jongle is shocked by what has transpired, and he stands there looking for a moment at Khalid’s outstretched hand holding the pair of dice.

With a solemn brow, he gathers the cards and walks back to Khalid.

I don’t understand the will o’ gods or ghosts or demons from hell. But all I know is…you’re a better mushroom than me, Khalid. You—you’re a goddamn saint! I promise!

Jongle clasps his hand with Khalid’s giving him the cards, and then bawls in the dwarf’s arms for a good long while.

There is no change in the jungle winds as Jongle takes the dice and hands over the cards.

There is no ominous wind or flash of lightning.

The cards are perfectly normal cards in Khalid’s fungal hands.

Jongle never again dreams of the old gypsy woman.

Jongle knows, if Khalid kills the Maharajah and takes his place, and if Jongle then leaves Sri Raji, that he may never again see his friend.

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32: The Terrible Truth About Sri Raji
our heroes recast a mighty weapon

Arriving in Tvashtri, the Revengers split up. Jongle, Bertram, Khalid, and Minja head to the Great University to seek information on their mission while Ervendio and Bea take an unconscious Proteus — overwhelmed by the strange new power lurking within — to an inn.

The University Revengers, trading a scroll of detect magic for entrance to the University, are witness to the daily choosing of an unfortunate soul who will be sent to the Maharajah Arijani as a blood sacrifice. They are paired with Paqi, an eager university student, who gathers books for them on the maharajah and lycanthropy. They discover the most common recommended cure for lycanthropy is death by silver weapon or magic, and that the Maharajah is revered as a kind of beautiful & terrible folk hero. Paqi does not return from the last mysterious tower in which he endeavors to bring back books for the Revengers.

The Inn Revengers spend the evening recuperating. Bea dabbles with a moody teenager to make Jongle jealous, but Jongle never sees them. Proteus lounges with his head in Ervendio’s lap all evening. In the morning, Jongle brings them to the University, where the others spent the night among the stacks of books.

The united Revengers meet with replacement assistant Billie, who searches for more books on Sri Raji’s history and introduces them to Sidrathi, the scholar they were sent to meet. He confirms that the tiger statue is Ravanna’s Bane and is capable of destroying Arijani. Sidrathi believes that if the Maharajah is destroyed, the mists will part and Sri Raji can rejoin the larger world. He warns them of the Dark Sisterhood, priestesses of Kali, and points the Revengers toward a blacksmith who can reforge this mighty weapon, and tells them the nomadic Vistani can be found outside of the city, and may be able to answer other questions they have. Bertram asked for Sidrathi’s silver dagger in lieu of information on a cure for lycanthropy; the scholar agreed, and gave it. Khalid left a card with Sidrathi, telling him of the need in Grudgewood for experienced teachers.

The Revengers drop the tiger statue off with Kopi, the halfling blacksmith who previously reforged the bolt into the form of a statue to keep it safe. Then they venture outside of the city to find the Vistani camp, where Bertram gets drunk, Jongle & Minja celebrate their wedding, and the group sits down with an old Vistani, crone, who reads their fortune with a deck of tarokka cards.

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Asked about the Maharajah, she draws The Illusionist as the focus card. The card opposing the focus is The Elementalist, representing the natural forces of the cosmos and the natural triumph of nature of the work of mortals. The card supporting the focus is The Temptress, a creature of beauty and seductive words.

The focus’s past is represented by The Philanthropist, The Avenger, The Priest, and The Soldier — the Revengers are told that Arijani was born a mortal son of the avatar of Ravanna, but he betrayed and murdered his father. He was punished with imprisonment on this island, but by becoming a living avatar of Kali, Arijani gained power over the land itself, and allied himself with the Dark Sisterhood a militant group of assassins who exert the dark goddess’s will on the land.

The focus’s near future was represented by The Miser and The Anarchist, representing an implacable and jealous creature, and the forces of constant, chaotic change.

Finally, the focus’s resolution was represented by The Dictator — a man imprisoned by swords and heavy chains — and according to the old Vistani, whoever destroyed the Maharajah would be forced to take his place here on the island.

The old woman disappeared into the night after the reading of the cards. As the Revengers returned to the Vistani celebration, Jongle stole the old gypsy woman’s tarokka deck.

In the morning, the Vistani camp was gone — the Revengers found themselves camped around a dying fire. Khalid found that all of his silver had been taken, replaced by a simple pair of dice.

After retrieving the recast Ravanna’s Bane from Kopi, the Revengers travel north to Bahru, the Accursed City, home of Maharajah Arijani. They encounter a wicked naga who attempts to charm Proteus, but they easily overcome the deadly beast. They hypnotize it and trick it into a dream-state, in which it reveals the location of a hidden door to Arijani’s temple — around a narrow ledge and to the back. Proteus kills the naga as Khalid investigates its barrow, discover a cache of potions and scrolls.

Before the party stands the empty and abandoned city of Bahru, and the temple of Arijani…

XP
Group Awards
Secret Knowledge Revealed, 600
Read the Tarokka, 3000
Spirit Naga, 5000
Group Totals 8600, Individual Awards 1434

Individual Total
Bea 2184 (Ingenue for a Moody Teen 750, Group 1434)
Bertram 2184 (Researcher 750, Group 1434)
Ervendio 2184 (Caretaker 750, 1434)
Jongle 2184 (Take A Card 750, Group 1434)
Khalid 2184 (Fortune Received 750, Group 1434)
Proteus 2184 (WereSnugglebunny 750, Group 1434)

LOOT
silver dagger
Revanna’s Bane, recast as a silver crossbow bolt
tarokka deck, stolen from a gypsy seer
a pair of dice, in exchange for Khalid’s silver
a crossbow

Naga treasure: 2 potions , 1 gem, scroll of geas, scroll of non-detection, scroll of protection from cold, scroll of protection from undead

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31: Strangers in a Strange Land
our heroes embark to meet the maharajah

The monk takes the Revengers through the narrow streets of the city. Bertram peruses the local food stalls, but his gold won’t spend here. Khalid trades some of his beard-mushrooms for a roasted duck.

The monk delivers the party to Minja, an orphaned goblin who was raised here by halfling foster-grandparents. Jongle is smitten, but Minja — unaccustomed to such romantic attention — spurns him. Minja tells the Revengers they are in Sri Raji, a mist-enshrouded island ruled by Maharajah Arijani. Outsiders are generally shunned, and the only way off the island is speak with the Maharaja himself. Minja has led other outsiders to Arijani’s temple in the past, and she assumes they make it home — for they are never seen again.

Over night, Khalid plants himself in the nearby refuse pile — soaking in the sickly sweet nutrients after several days at sea. Jongle and Minja trade notes, and Minja delcares her love for him — but also asks Jongle not speak to her again. Proteus sleeps fitfully, and in the morning remembers little of his dreams — there are flashes of running, the scent of blood in the air, and sweat.

In the morning, Bertram trades his gold in for coins stamped with Arijani’s shrouded face. He purchases strange new spices and cooking supplies, and becomes apprentice at a prawn cart.

Minja takes Ervendio and Jongle shopping. Jongle shoplifts a flowered bracelet and presents it to Minja, telling her the three flowers represent, “you, me, and our future.” Minja accepts what she believes to be Jongle’s marriage proposal, and they consummate their union that night. Minja agrees to leave Pakat and travel with Jongle and Mildred’s Revengers to the Great University in Tvashti, where scholars there may know more about their tiger figurine.

As the group convinces Bertram to leave behind his new life as a prawn cook, they are approached by a sinewy young halfling with bright orange hair. He leads the Revengers to a meeting with Ajiht, who claims to be the leader of a pack of weretigers. He tells the Revengers that Maharajah Arijani is actually the living avatar of Kali, a goddess of creation and destruction, and that he keeps the inhabitants of Sri Raji trapped here. He asks the group to take the tiger figurine to a scholar named Sidrathi at the Great University, who can recast the figurine into a crossbow bolt that can destroy Arijani.

He also reveals that Proteus, raked & bitten by the weretiger in the jungle the day before, has been infected with lycanthropy. He offers to teach Proteus the ways of the beast, if he is ever interested in learning them.

The group agrees to Arijani’s request, privately intending to keep their options open. In attempting to cast detect evil on Ajiht, Bea’s magic surges wildly — turning all of her gold into goldfish. They are, presumably, left to die on the floor of Ajiht’s warehouse headquarters.

The group sets out the next morning. In the strange and fertile jungle they are attacked by a _quickwood__, a carnivorous tree. They burn the thing with acid and fire, reducing it to a bubbly stump despite Khalid’s attempts to revive it.

After a day and a half in the jungle, the party leaves the trees and again find themselves on a hill overlooking a city. Larger than Pakat, this is Tvashti. Central to the city, they can see a large green space dotted with high-domed buildings — the Great University, home to the scholars and sages of this strange land.

XP
Group Awards
Minja Has Joined the Party, 1200
Quickwood, 3500
group total: 4700. individual totals: 784

Individual Totals
Bea 1534 (Goldfish Pockets 750, Group 784)
Bertram 1534 (Money Exchanger 750, Group 784)
Ervendio 1534 (Chaperone 750, Group 784)
Jongle 1734 (Married Man 750, Wedding Gift 200, Group 784)
Khalid 1534 (Refuse Recharge 750, Group 784)
Proteus 1534 (Eye of the Tiger 750, Group 784)

LOOT
spell scroll (wizard spell of players choice, level 1-4)
philter of stammering & stuttering
wind fan

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30: On Foggy Shores
our heroes are cast adrift

Faced with Jad‘s flaming scimitar, Ervendio surrenders and turns over The Second Key. Ervendio submits to a geas promising not to take the key from Jad, by treachery or violence. Jad saves Jongle’s life, ties up the rest of the Revengers, and pacifies Sǐwáng the Wyvern, luring it back to the hold.

Into the evening, the Revengers are left tied up on the deck of Jasmine’s Grace. Khalid attempts to spore and communicate telepathicaly with the wyvern, but he accidentally spores onto Ervendio instead.

Sometime after nightfall, Jad and his ghoul-crew readies to load the Revengers onto a small rowboat. He assures them land has been sighted to the south. But first, Khalid snaps his medallion in two — sending him to Mycelia, the land of his fungal god Psilofyr, and the hiding place of the First Key. Suspicious but bemused, Jad set the rest of the Revengers adrift at sea with a chest of their weapons and a knife to cut their bonds. Left behind on Jasmine’s Grace was Proteus’s full-plate armor, Bertram’s meticulously gathered food supplies, and the Second Key.

Khalid found himself instantly transported to Mycelia in the Outer Planes. He was more fungal than ever before — his limbs and his head were heavy with mushrooms, including a large red cap that had now sprouted on his head — and the body of a dead spyder-fiend floated past him in the murky, primordial swampwater. Psilofyr admonished him for continuing to lead a violent life, though Khalid contended he was trying to do better. Khalid asked for, and received, the First Key, though Psilofyr cautioned that it was a tool of chaos and could be kept safe in Mycelia. Khalid then asked to be returned to his friends.

Adrift in the open ocean, the Revenges saw no sign of the land promised by Jad. Late in the first day on the water, their boat bumped into a bulbous mushroom floating in the sea — it was Khalid!

The Revengers continued to drift & row. Bea spied a curious sahaugin nearby. She sang a song to herself as the mer-creatures gathered to attack. The Revengers handily fend them off, and the creatures retreat back into the sea. This isn’t food! one of them warns the others.

After more than two days at sea, sleeping fitfully if at all, the Revengers’ tiny craft is enveloped in a thick fog. Through the mist they finally spy land — there is a great mountain up ahead and the tide is pulling them toward it. When their boat brushes sand, Ervendio and Proteus drag the ship to a narrow beach. A wall of dense, wet jungle stands before the party — and they venture within.

While Jongle and Kermit fly over the treetops, the rest of the group goes on a boar hunt. Though they find no evidence of boar, they do come upon a great thrashing in the trees — and suddenly, a woman runs out from the foilage. She is dark-skinned and short of stature, but her build is slight. She is some kind of … skinny dwarf. She nearly runs headlong into Khalid, but before they can even speak a vicious tiger chases her down, attacking her and killing her. She drops a mysterious wrapped package onto the jungle floor.

The rest of the party catches up to Khalid and the now-deceased tall gnome. The tiger attacks them, biting Proteus and shrugging off many of the attacks by the Revengers. When the tiger is finally killed, it immediately changes form — into another short but slight humanoid, akin to some kind of human goblin.

(( During the battle, Bea’s magic surges wildly — bestowing upon her a strange new ability. Her dominant hand will always remain completely dry, even immersed in water. ))

Jongle catches up to the party, informing them that the jungle ends a few miles distant — and that a small settlement of some kind is nearby. Khalid picks up the strange woman’s fallen package — wrapped in cloth, it is a foot-long ceramic tiger.

They travel to the edge of the jungle and emerge onto a low-lying wet field. Several humanoids of the same race as the woman from the jungle are in the field, harvest some kind of green crop from the wet fields. They regard the strangers with no expression, and no one speaks to them as they approach.

The citizens inside the small city react much the same. The Revengers are not stopped from entering the city, and though the natives take some note of their arrival, they seem to regard the newcomers passively and with little interest.

Strange smells — exotic but delicious — waft from the windows of humble huts. The huts are made of bamboo, thatch, or tan stone. There are pack animals in the streets, carrying buckets of whatever the … halflings were harvesting out in the muddy wet paddies. They larger than dogs, but built like cattle. They have twisty, twirling horns on their heads. They smell like wet fur.

The group finds a temple and Ervendio’s interest in ancient languages comes in handy. Though they cannot speak directly, one of the monks is able to communicate well enough that he knows of another phalang — another foreigner — and he offers to take the Revengers to this person right away….

XP
Group Awards
A Peaceful Exit, 1000
Sahaugin, 405
Weretiger, 975
Group Total 2380. Individual Awards, 397.

Individual Totals

Bea 1147 (Fish Heads 750, Group 397)
Bertram 1147 (Choose to Disbelieve 750, Group 397)
Ervendio 1147 (Great Negotiator 750, Group 397)
Jongle 1147 (Eagle Eye 750, Group 397)
Khalid 1147 (Mushroom Cap 750, Group 397)
Proteus 1147 (Eye of the Tiger 750, Group 397)

LOOT
ceramic tiger figurine

lost: Proteus’s armor, Bertram’s cooking supplies, the Second Key.

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29: Doom on the Southern Sea
our heroes trust the wrong dwarf

In Grudgewood, Khalid invests in the construction of the Canicus Dias Institute for the Mind and Body. Named for the Revengers’ fallen friend, the school will provide instruction for the children of Grudgewood in reading, writing, and arithmetic in the mornings, and physical education, swordplay, ethics and politics, magic, natural history, and philosophy in the afternoons. Evening classes will be offered to adults who seek to continue their education in workshops offered by local professionals and professors.

Words comes from Cano City that Pope Pior XII has died of old age. A new pope will be chosen by the goblin cardinals.

Ervendio continues his work helping Hennelly establish the Church of St. Martiff, and Bea begins offering small business loans to ambitious new arrivals in Grudgewood. Bea struggles with the reality of killing so many foes with fire and violence.

Khalid communes with The Second Key, who indicates that the third is to the south-southeast. Believing this means his homeland of Amara, the Revengers plan to travel to Hooptown and book travel across the Southern Sea.

Khalid (under Ervendio’s watchful eye) meets with Jad, the mysterious dwarf with a connection Red Al. Worried that Jad is an agent of Khalid’s former brotherhood of assassins, Jad professes to be a tradesman who knows Albert from their days in Ocean’s Deep. He, too, is en route back to Hooptown, and then across the Sea to Amara. Khalid and the Revengers agree to travel with him.

Over eight days of peaceful travel to Hooptown, the Revengers trade stories & games together. Jongle & Khalid lightly discuss Jongle’s brief dalliance with Bea in the Prinzfeld. Khalid & Proteus play I Spy….

In Hooptown, the Revengers board Jad’s ship, Jasmine’s Grace. It is a small, thirty-foot-long ship meant for coastal travel. Jad’s crew are silent, black-clad dwarves who serve obediently, with no words and no humor. The Revengers learn the basics of seamanship under Jad’s tutelage. The below-decks area remains off limits as Jad, the crew, and Revengers work, live, and sleep under the stars.

Until Khalid steals belowdecks and discovers a great beast being kept prisoner. A scaly thing, Khalid communicates with it telepathically. It communicates in broken, halting dwarven, and wants to be left alone. Bertram, making friends with Bert the Rat, a wizard among his kind, learns that the rats of the ship call it the great black hole, and that it has a pink thing, which is death. Further investigation from the rat-kind reveals there are also white parts, pointy and killing.

More than a week into their peaceful sea journey, Jad calls the Revengers to share a meal with him. He discusses the salt bond, a social contract by which hosts + guests pledge fealty and protection to one another; he asks them of the foes they have faced, if any have been worthy of their respect. The Revengers struggle to think of any. They think back to Stiv Urd, briefly Khalid’s squire, killed by an axe to the face; to Smiley, the mule forgotten and abandoned outside of the Haunted Halls; to the many enemies they found wanting.

Jad says it is good to have comrades. To have brothers. He asks how it felt to kill one of his brothers — one of the The Knights of Mypp — to cut him down in the midst of his mission. He draws his flaming scimitar and looses the creature below deck, none other than the wyvern Sǐwáng, the mount of General Xiang, the Illrigger. Jad, the Myrikhan, attacks with the wyvern at his command, his crew of ghouls, and his desire for revenge.

Khalid, Bea, Bertram, and Proteus are paralyzed by the ghouls. Jongle is poisoned by the wyvern and on the verge of death. Only Ervendio remains.

XP
Group Awards
Sailing to a New World, 3000
Total Party Paralyzation, 0
Individual Totals: 500

Individual Awards
Bea 1250 (A Business Bea 750, Group 500)
Bertram 1250 (Rat Whisperer 750, Group 500)
Ervendio 1250 (Last Elf Standing 750, Group 500)
Jongle 1250 (Identifier 750, Group 500)
Khalid 1250 (Salty Fungus 750, Group 500)
Proteus 1250 (Caught Unawares 750, Group 500)

LOOT
(identified)
Cloak of Fear
- one use lasts 8 hours, or until the wearer is subject to a bravery spell.
- wearer has a +1 to rolls vs. bravery.
- surrounds the wearer with a 3’ radius aura of fear.
- all creatures who enter this radius must save vs. spell or be subjected to fear.

The Freezing Key
- this is a normal key that radiates extreme cold.
- it inflicts 1d8 chill damage per round that it is held/touched, with no save.
- the door(s) this key unlocks are unknown.

Wand of Fear (Judge’s chest)
- 44 charges
- as per the spell Fear

Elven Chain Mail, +5

Longsword, +2 (Volo’s room)

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