Here is the entire game synopsis. Holy cow. I didn’t realize how much had happened until I sat down to type it all up. And this was mostly just hitting the highlights…
First Game – January 26, 2003
After resting for a night in the shadow of Omen, our intrepid group wakes to….
A campfire burning and one Xambrian (dour-looking fella isn’t he?) is keeping a kettle from boiling by staring at it. Only slightly noxious odors drift from whatever he is cooking.
The first one awake (surprisingly) is Calzon. He starts back from ole grim ‘n ugly and takes a look around. Not surprisingly, everything hurts. After a groggy moment, he kicks awake the rest of the companions. Slowly, the group wakens and begins puttering about the fire. After a moment, Therial does a double take and does a quick count again.
“Something seems to be wrong…are we missing people?” he asks.
Calzon makes his own count and comes up with three missing people. Eba, L’Kala and Sya appear to be gone. Nothing bad could’ve happened though, the group figures because they are in the shadow of Omen. Surrounded by Xambrians. They finally snag one of the more talkative (ha!) of the Wizard Hunters and get the story. Very early that morning the three missing people had left, returning north to Altan.
(quick thought process…the strange Ariane is returning home to her people. She’s placid but very powerful. Do we want to go and try to convince her to come with us? Um, NO.
The warrioress, otherwise known as L’Kala? Not a chance. She’s bigger than most of the males and sheathed in unbreakable armor. Eba the Gnomekin? Hmm…mushroom ale. High squeaky voice, bounced a lot. No loss there. Oh, well – we go on alone.)
Off to one side of the fire, Weaver notices that the groups’ packs are well…packed.
While the group is trying to figure out what to do next, Esther is approached by grim n’ ugly from the campfire. He hands her a sack and walks off. The sack sloshes. All things being equal, Esther hands the sack to Weaver and asks him to open it for her. Weaver does so and it contains water-skins. Hm…
A minute later the same Wizard Hunter approaches again and hands Esther another sack. This one is considerably heavier. The sack is again handed off to Weaver who opens it. Rations. Enough for 2 people for about a week. (Ewww…Xambrian trail rations….**blech**(
The group is definitely getting the idea that perhaps moving on is the best thing to do. Esther is all for it – Omen has got to be one of THE most unnatural places she’s ever had the misfortune to be in. So in the fashion of great adventurers everywhere, they mill around aimlessly trying to decide what to do.
After a moment’s thought, Therial remember that the closest city is Nadan. He claims that it is about a week’s travel to the southwest. The group grabs up their packs and heads off southwest.
The first day’s travel is pretty uneventful.
For camp that night, Esther spies a couple of scrub brushes growing near each other.
The rations are used (yech!) to supplement Weaver’s conjured food & beverage. And … nothing happens during any of the watches. Calzon maintains this is because he didn’t take one.
Early afternoon the second day something is spotted on the horizon. Esther flies up (using her bracelets) and spots building up ahead – about 2 hours travel. She flies back down and reports.
“Is that Nadan?” she asks.
Therial ponders a moment (and fails his proficiency check) and answers that it must be. “I guess it was closer than I thought!”
An hour’s travel brings them a bit closer and they see the sprawling ruins of Jalaad.
“That cannot be Nadan”, Calzon mutters.
Esther again takes to the air to scout. This time she sees movement in the ruins. She goes invisible and zips a little closer and sees some very strange people indeed. The beings are tall – as tall as Weaver! – and orange. She hurries back to make her report.
After a moment’s discussion, the group gets moving again and finally reaches the ruins where the Library of Jalaad is contained.
The first thing they notice is a couple of tall orange people in yellow and white robes (really tall hats!!) going to and fro. They manage to attract one’s attention
They quickly find out where they are (glares all around at Therial) and that the Library is open and right over **there**.
Calzon and Therial mount the steps and approach the doors. Just outside is a Calidian sitting on a stool and reading. He glances up when they approach and intones, “No weapons inside” and then goes back to his reading. There is a shelf next to him containing various arms.
The group discusses it and hands off their weapons to people who decide to stay outside. Weaver, Esther and Romelia elect to remain outside while Therial and Calzon examine the Library.
***Inside the Library***
Calzon and Therial approach the doors once again. As they do the doors silently retreat five paces and then slide right and left, respectively. (spiffy!) They continue inside and there is a pulse of light. Now each of them is glowing with a soft golden light. They examine the area they are standing in (PER check – wow! They made it!) and notice lines of writing wrapped in bands. The bands run in concentric rings down arched hallway they are standing in. Apparently they’ve set off some sort of spell by stepping on one of the bands. Nothing else seems to happen so they continue into the Library proper.
Inside is a huge room with a very fancy chandelier hanging over a desk. Behind the desk sits a very old female Calidian. About the room, several chairs w/reading stands and side tables are scattered about. In most of them are Calidians. Therial and Calzon also see that while the building is ruinously old and decrepit looking on the outside, the inside is very nice and very clean. They also notice that somewhere between the front door and where they are standing they’ve apparently taken a bath and had their armor polished. The dings and nicks are still there but they don’t look the ragamuffins that they did when they first came in. Further (and far more important to the people who take care of the Library), they aren’t tracking in any dirt or dust.
Calzon/Therial approach the desk. The old Calidian looks up and asks, “Can I help you?” (Low Tal, she doesn’t think much of their scholarly ability due to the armor they are wearing. This is in spite of the glow that tells her they are mages.)
They ask a number of questions (making their Etiquette rolls) especially if there are any local records that they can see. Calzon wants to read up on current events. Therial wants to read about events from about 100 years ago. She directs them to the History section with a long and detailed explanation of how to get there. Calzon heads off, confident that he can find it. Therial heads off, not quite as sure but faking it well.
Five minutes of walking brings Calzon to the Current History room. There are several tall reading pedestals in the room. On one of them is a huge tome, open to a mostly blank page. Calzon approaches it and reads, “…today several strangers entered the ruins.”
Several minutes’ investigative work shows him how the histories are arranged. He begins to look in earnest to see what sorts (if any) bizarre happenings have been occurring in the local area.
Meanwhile….Therial wanders lost in the Library for nearly an hour. He eventually winds up back at the front door. Not sure how he got there, he re-approaches the Information Desk. The old Calidian behind the desk agrees to give him written instructions (confirming her assessment of the Cymrillian’s scholarly ability). Thus armed, Therial heads once more back into the maze of shelves and books.
Once he gets where he is going, he finds that the histories are arranged in a very organized manner. He also finds himself at a section that starts approximately 600 years ago. He begins the countdown…Five hundred…. four….. three…. two… one…Current. Hey, isn’t that Calzon?
They collectively discover that nothing really untoward has happened in the last month or so. Or for that matter, for the last year. Unless they are scholars, people tend to steer clear of the Library and the Calidians.
The remaining group is trying to decide where to make camp. Esther notices a couple of Cymrillians and a few Djaffirans moving in and out of a nearby building. They leave Weaver to keep an eye on the packs and go explore.
Esther sashays up to one of the Cymrillians (a thin, seedy looking man) and pheromones him into submission.
“What can you tell me of this place?”, she enquires.
Eager to help (of course, the poor sot only rolled a 2 to resist her) he gives her a brief rundown on the locals. She finds out: where they are, where Nadan **really** is, what the building they are standing next to is, his life history, what he’s doing in Jalaad….she stops him after awhile. Turns out he’s here studying Cryptomancy. He’s actually a map-maker from the 7 Kingdoms and offers to make her a map from here to Nadan. Esther agrees (of course!!) But he also supplies her with the valuable information that a duneship will be arriving in about a week and that the next one will be another 2 months past that.
The building they are standing next to is the “Barracks”. Essentially, it is a place for the visiting scholars & the people who supply them to stay.
The Barracks….essentially a building that’s crumbling and ruinous looking on the outside but is fine on the inside. There are two levels to this building. Five rooms down each side, then a stairway to the next level. Each can hold about three people. There is nothing but rooms in the Barracks. No food or water or bedding or anything is supplied. However, there are always merchants around to provide anything that a traveling scholar might need. Outside the Barracks is another of the weapons rack. A weapon put in can only be retrieved by the person who originally placed it on the shelf. Furthermore, no-one can walk into the Barracks with weapons of any kind. They are repulsed by an invisible wall.
****Back in the Library****
Calzon and Therial have managed to find the Magic Section Information Desk. They enquire and ascertain that books of theory are certainly available. Everything else is not. Further the words are divided by order and then by effect. They each gleefully dive in the Wizardry section. They don’t come up for air until several hours later when a deep tone sounds throughout the Library.
They get up and see Calidians leaving their books and works. They also notice that there are a couple of other races in there as well. The other races are leaving the Library.
Therial and Calzon head down and start to walk out. Calzon walks right through the portals into the archway leading out of the Library. Therial, who has the book he’s been reading clutched to his chest, runs into an invisible wall. Calzon figures it out pretty quickly – and has a good laugh while Therial continues to bounce against the invisible wall trying to get out. Eventually, he figures it out and places the book down on a nearby reading table. This time when he makes the attempt he is able to leave the Library unhindered.
The men rejoin the rest of the group and they all swap information. They bat around the idea to stay in Jalaad for the next couple of months but both Esther and Weaver say that they really don’t want to stay here that long. Further discussion is interrupted by the sight of a couple of Djaffirian merchants. They spend the rest of the evening in the Barracks getting outfitted with new aht-ra boots and other purchases. The merchant also happens to have some silk along – beautiful stuff. One bolt is a deep blue with silver pattern work in it. Another bolt is a crimson that glimmers different hues of red when moved. Calzon buys some of the blue for himself and some of the red for Romelia.
Weaver buys some of the blue, as well. They all do pretty well haggling down the price to ½ gold lumen per yard. (Although, the merchant charges Weaver the original price of a gold lumen a yard. This, even though Weaver actually winds up buying the other 25 ½ yards – the rest of the bolt.)
Also, the rest of the group notices that both of Calzon and Therial are well…polished and clean looking. Weaver is a little miffed about missing his opportunity for a bath but, resolves to go in and get spiffed up himself tomorrow. Everybody retires for the night.
***Into the Fray, err…Library, Once More!***
This, time everyone but Esther decides that the Library is a good idea. (Esther has gone invisible and is floating in the air some 100 feet above – communing with Nature.)
Romelia starts researching Witchcraft but quickly finds out that the books are in either Archaen or Elder tongue. As she reads neither, she approaches the Information Desk in the Magic section and asks if they have someone who could translate the works with her. She is informed that there are tools available for this and is given a flat, round crystal bound all around in gold. Inscribed in the gold is a series of runes. She is instructed in the use of the item – set the crystal over the words and read through it. Romelia heads back to the Witchcraft section and finds that there are only a few books on the subject – however, there are three tomes describing how to use it as a Seer might (Reveal).
Intrigued, she plops down in one of the nearby chairs and doesn’t even bother to surface until the evening tone sounds.
Calzon and Therial who are each trying to learn how to move things by Wizardry are also deep in research.
Weaver finds the shelf containing theory on Conjuring. He begins to peruse. First book – pfft, a primer. Second book,…a little more advanced but hardly more than what a really advanced child might know. After several minutes of searching, he finally finds a book on Conjuring that appeals and settles down for a good read.
The characters decide to spend only a week in the Jalaad ruins and Library. They will try to catch the duneship that is coming in a week from Nadan. (Romelia and Calzon mostly because there is absolutely nothing else to do but read and sleep. No bars, no plays, no musicians. Nothing.)
But Romelia, Therial and Calzon would like to continue their research with the tomes that they have found. Careful enquiry lets them discover that they can have copies made of each of the books they are reading. At a gold lumen a page. They decide to have it done and ask if it can be done in a week. “Of course” is the answer. (The Calidians assign some of the children to this task. It’s truly onerous work but is good practice for them.)
The rest of the week passes pretty uneventfully. The men who are researching each acquire the unshaven, disheveled look that only time spent away from any physical labor can give.
Romelia inquires about purchasing one of the translation lenses. She is informed that the only ones for purchase are not Library quality but, are quite effective. When asked how much they might be, the answer is 5,000 gold lumens. After some fruitless haggling, the aged Calidian agrees to a price – Weaver announces that he will teach them a small Alcedonean magic to increase spell duration.
And the week drags on.
Mid-morning of the 8th day, a slightly higher pitched tone rings throughout the Library. This is – they find out – to let the visiting scholars know that the supply ship is here.
***Out of Doors, //blink, blink//**
The duneship arrives and it is huge. 100 feet long. There’s a strange brass and iron tube thing on the back. And there are lots and lots of Djaffirans running about. They look to be offloading merchandise off the ship.
On the top deck a man with dark green skin and a commanding air is standing. The women, deciding that charm is the better part of valor, approach him as obviously the captain to enquire about passage to Nadan.
Turns out that he is willing to give them a lift as most of the Djaffirans are going to stay. Furthermore, if they would be willing to exchange some work he’d cut them a deal.
Romelia wanders off to fetch the men – and Esther stays to try to “bring down the price”.
The Dracartan captain is more than willing to talk to such a lovely, charming lady. She informs him that she is an entertainer – she dances and tells stories – and he all but slobbers on her. (sheesh – his roll wound up being in the negatives to her Deception/pheremones double-whammy)
Romelia rounds up the group and they all show up on deck about the time that mon capitain is about to proposition Esther. Being a gentleman, he decides to wait for a better opportunity.
***And They’re Off, …///whew, finally!!///***
The group travels the week and a half to Nadan. Very little happens except ::
1. Sandstorm the first day out. A very, very mild one. It lasts for about an hour and then peters out.
2. On the second to last day of the journey Esther uses her magic (Influence) to make the lech,…er captain…think that they had a wonderful time together.
***A Brief Stop in Nadan***
The group disembarks in Nadan and takes a look around. Hmm..small. They quickly realize that the “city” is more in the line of a fortified settlement.
Unanimously (and more than a little optimistically!), they decide to try to find out when the next windship for Cymril is.
Of the two caravanserais in town, only one looks to be doing business. Apparently there is a small caravan with a duneship and aht-ras leaving right in the next hour or so. ((Windships?? Bwuahahahaha! is the answer they get)
They are directed to the duneship to book passage. As they approach, they notice a small pavilion has been setup on the deck. In its shade a desk has been setup. Behind the desk is a very old and wizened appearing Djaffiran. He is currently speaking to another Djaffiran.
In a moment, the other Djaffiran leaves and Calzon, Esther and Weaver step up. Haggling ensues. The old man is obviously a skinflint and just short of a thief. First, he offers to let the company guard his caravan for a modest fee of 15 gold lumen. Then, he claims that he will pay them 1 gold lumen a day for guard duty. Finally, his wife apparently hears enough and comes and talks to him (wagging finger, shaking head – the whole bit) in Nomadic. She moves off. Some of the more observant of the group notice that the guards who were standing around waiting on the caravan to make ready are leaving – making rude gestures as they go. When this is pointed out to the old miser finally comes up with 15 gold lumen paid to them to guard his caravan. The party accepts, knowing that the caravan is leaving immediately. As they walk down to collect their gear and the rest of the party – they are intercepted by the old woman. She asks him what Yosef offered. When she finds out she shakes her head and briskly announces that their pay will be 15 gold lumen per head as they will be the **only** guards.
And with great pomp and very little ceremony – they are finally off.
***Trip to Dracarta**
The trip starts out uneventfully enough. The party finds out that they are bunked in the hold of the duneship. This is because there are only two cabins on the ship. One is for the Yassan. The other is for the owner of the ship and his family (wizened old man, his wife and their twin sons – the pilots).
Five aht-ras and one greymane tied to the back of the ship set the pace for small ship.
They get underway and with a bump and roll they are on the road to Dracarta.
The party is introduced to Al Qalat who is traveling to Dracarta with them. Guard shifts are divvied up. Whoever is not on duty is probably studying their new goodies found/bought in Jalaad.
2nd day, morning…Esther (who is on watch) see something sticking out of the sand about 15 feet from the road. It looks almost like horns but, they are all that she can see. She uses her magic (Reveal) to see what might be under the sand. The image that she gets back is completely unnatural and hideous. She alerts the rest of the crew and keeps a careful eye on it but nothing happens.
4th day out, early evening…While on duty, Therial sees what can only be an opteryx high in the sky. Nothing untoward happens however and the sail on.
4th day, late night….Romelia is on watch. She is looking out over the dunes (the ship comes to a rest at night to allow the animals to rest) and thinks she sees something moving in the darkness. She strains and vaguely makes out movement (she critted her PER roll) through the moonlight.
She calls for Al Qalat who is down on the ground below to find out if he can make anything out.
She doesn’t see what he does (he activates an enchanted item) and light floods out across the back of the ship. In this new illumination they can see what is headed for the ship.
Scorpions. Thousands of them. Each is about a foot long. And they move wickedly fast. Romelia raises the alarm as Al Qalat bangs on the hold door. A second later the door clangs open and Calzon and Weaver stand there.
Al Qalat unties his mount, the greymane who gallops into the hold of the ship. He then begins to cast. Moments later a wave of earth elementals roll over the road, taking most of the bugs with them. However, a few are knocked back and roll down the escarpment of the road. They immediately turn and begin trundling back towards the ship. Calzon fries three with one shot of wizardly bolt. Then another. The third, he stabs (with a flourish!). Meanwhile, Al Qalat has been trying to move the braying, frightened aht-ras into the relative safety of the ship. He is having NO luck. Finally, he mounts the lead aht-rah, thinking to lead them all onto the ship that way. Unfortunately, the rope snaps behind the second aht-rah.
Most of the bugs are dead or so the party thinks – until one of the Djaffiran from up on deck call out that more are coming down the road.
It becomes a struggle to get the stupid beasts loaded onto the ship and perhaps get away before the insects arrive. Finally, one of the twins jumps down and loads the other animals onto the ship and help close up the hold door.
Up on deck, the Yassan pulling up one of the anchors by hand – knocking off any bugs that attempt to crawl the chain. The ships sails are partially up, preparatory to taking off. Calzon leaps to another of the anchors and begins to haul it up using the winch. Al Qalat helps the other twin who is desperately trying to get the anchor to come up.
Finally, he realizes that it’s a futile effort and activates his father’s ring. He cries out in a commanding voice, “Remove all these scorpions back to Rajanistan!” A soundless but impossibly bright stroke of lighting occurs and a whirlwind appears with the suggestion of a human face. “As you command” it utters.
The whirlwind spins out around the ship and picks up every one of the scorpions. It then heads due south.
After a shocked moment of silence, the old woman comes out of the cabin she shares with her husband. She goes to Al Qalat and murmers something quietly to him.
After a brief conversation he goes below and fetches Esther. The old man, it turns out is sick and in need of a Healer. Could she come and help?
Esther of course agrees and goes to see the owner of the ship.
She finds him propped up in his bed, sweating and gray faced. He is only somewhat coherent. She examines him briefly and then goes into her Healing trance.
When she is done, she gently informs the wife that mostly what is wrong with Yosef is old age. The excitement of the attack has caused him to become ill. She thinks he might be fine but what he mostly needs is rest and quiet. The wife thanks her and Esther leaves.
Above deck, she stops to take a breath and smells something odd in the wind. Dust?
The twins have noticed it too and are battening down the hatches. Yet another sand storm is making its way to them. Everything gets done and people dive for their respective covers just as it hits.
During the sandstorm – which lasts for 15 hours or so – the old man passes away. The strain of the storm is too much right after the scorpion attack.
The next day – the party helps with the funerary rites returning the old man to the ashes.
There ends the first gaming day.