Session 39:
Full of Hot Air


[JadedDM]: Dymin 4th, Sparkday; 10 bells.  It's a dark and cloudy, but calm day as the party meets in the conference hall after exactly one month from securing the tower as a base.  It is now time to discuss their next move.

[Christophe]: Christophe arrives in the conference hall first, having just returned from a trip to Janus.

[Lon]: Lon enters the hall, idly chewing on a piece of smoked meat. He sits in one of the chairs and leans against it, waiting for the others to arrive.

[Psyche]: Psyche sits within the conference hall quietly as she goes over the thoughts running through her mind with all that she had learned during the downtime. "How was your trip, Christophe?"

[Viarra]: Viarra lounges in one of the chairs and nods greetings to those who enter.  Her hands idly pick at the mandolin.  Occasionally, she'll stop to tune it. 

[JadedDM]: Nari saunters in, for once not wearing her weapon or armor.  She sits down next to Psyche.

[Christophe]: Christophe finds a chair and leans upon the top of it. "Interesting..."

[JadedDM]: Terrah comes next, pausing a moment as all eyes turn to her.  Blushing slightly, she makes her way to the table and sits down next to Christophe.

[Christophe]: "Hello." Christophe says to Terrah in low tones.

[Psyche]: "I'll ask what made it so interesting in a moment.” Psyche smiles to Terrah for a moment before glancing around. "Where is Tugh?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh comes running in last, a bit winded.  "Whew...," she says, bending over and resting her hands on her knees.  "Sorry about that, boss.  I was running the horses for exercise, and Glas was stubborn about getting back into his stall."  She stands back up and finds a seat before plopping down.

[JadedDM]: Terrah smiles to the older man and nods politely.

[Lon]: Lon sits up at the news. "Everything's okay, right, Tugh?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh nods.  "He's a stubborn one, that's all."

[Psyche]: Psyche stands up now that everyone has arrived. "All right, now that everyone is here, let’s get this started. Lon what have you been working on for the past month?" Psyche asks, picking on a random person at the moment.

[Lon]: "Well, those of you who helped already know. We've surrounded the tower with traps and pits, so that should provide a bit of defense, if not a little dinner now and then," Lon says thoughtfully, chewing on his meat.

[Psyche]: "Well, for those who don't know, do you have perhaps a map of where the traps and such have been placed so that we at least can avoid them?"

[Lon]: "Map? No." Lon looks a little confused.

[Psyche]: "That's all right. Considering that you will be with us, it shouldn't matter too much either way. You can even show us where they are later if you want." Psyche shrugs slightly. "All right, Terrah, what have you been doing?"

[JadedDM]: Terrah clears her throat before speaking up.  "Nari, Christophe and I have been working on cleaning up the tower.  We managed to get rid of the debris, dust and cobwebs."

[JadedDM]: Nari pipes in, "Yeah, but not much in the way of furnishing.  I'd really like a chance to set up that recreation room proper."

[Psyche]: "We really don't have a lot as it is, so once we get more money, perhaps we can devote some to the recreation room.  Viarra, what about you? What have you been doing?"

[Viarra]: Viarra continues to strum at the mandolin, playing a few arpeggios and still stopping to tune it.  "Tugh and I have fixed up the stables, and I've spent a bit of time in Janus getting to know the locals." 

[Psyche]: "Did you find out anything interesting while in Janus?"

[Viarra]: "Not much beyond the run of the mill gossip."  Viarra shrugs. 

[Psyche]: "Sometimes even that can be useful, but we will get back to that." Psyche smiles before turning to Tugh. "How are the horses holding up?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "They're doing well.  We got them settled in and the stables cleaned up.  But...the feed I bought a month ago is starting to run out again."

[Psyche]: "We can probably give you some more money for the horses, so don't worry." Psyche finally turns her eyes to Christophe. "And what about you, Christophe?"

[Christophe]: Christophe adjusts his hood. "Well, apart from the cleaning and finishing your training, I've made a few supply runs to Janus over the month. Terrah even offered to go with me on one of them."

[Psyche]: Psyche nods slightly, glancing to Nari. "Nari? Have you done anything else besides help get this place cleaned up?"

[JadedDM]: Nari leans back in her chair and puts her hands behind her head.  "That about sums it up."

[Psyche]: "Okay, so that leaves me. Other than finishing my training with Christophe, I've managed to learn a few new spells from the scrolls that we found. I've cleaned up that lab as much as I could, but it still needs a lot of work. I've also spent time in Janus, learning to read Hobgoblin, and I've used a spell of mine to look in on the towns that we been to, to see if I could find any of the missing Rebels."

[Lon]: "Any luck?" Lon asks, leaning forward.

[JadedDM]: Nari:  "Learn to read hobgoblin?  What for?"

[Viarra]: Viarra's eyes widen in surprise, and her strumming at the mandolin stops.

[Psyche]: "I'll get to your question in a moment, Lon.” Psyche glances to Nari. "Do you remember those papers we found in Morak's office that none of us could read?"

[JadedDM]: Nari sits back up.  "Oh, yeah.  I had forgotten about those."

[Psyche]: "Well, I've been wanting to get them translated, but I was really the only person I could trust with that information, so I learned. The first paper held a list of names, Riadlus being one of them. They apparently use to work for the Overlord. The woman that was killed here was a Priestess of Renos and her full name was Sorinak. She apparently looked over a weapon for the Overlord. For some reason or another, the group stopped their work with the Overlord and is now missing. We know that Sorinak and Riadlus are dead, but there are still two more out there. A woman named Odessa and a man named Elam ."

[JadedDM]: Nari:  " Elam ...that name sounds familiar for some reason."

[Psyche]: "There really wasn't much else learned about him, other than that he was a bit unstable according to Morak. Odessa was an assassin working for the Overlord to apparently watch over Riadlus and the others. Suldair and his group that were in Janus apparently work for the Overlord too. Suldair and Riadlus are brothers as well.  This group is the group that killed many of the Rebels within the Silver Cell and captured Amakororo the first time." Psyche shakes her head a bit sadly. "And they managed to obtain some sort of magical item for the Overlord as well, but it was never mentioned what it was."

[JadedDM]: Nari frowns.  "Then it's good they're dead."

[Psyche]: "Agreed. Though keep in mind that two of them are out there somewhere right now, we just don't know where." Psyche clears her throat. "Though, enough of that. As for if I had any luck on finding any remaining Rebels...I did have a little luck."

[Viarra]: "Where are they?" 

[Psyche]: "Nari should remember this town very well. It is a small town called Edge Elm. I found Kestrel and Wedge there."

[JadedDM]: Nari stands up suddenly, knocking her chair over.  "Wedge?!"

[Lon]: Lon looks at the map on the wall. "Which one's Edge Elm?"

[Christophe]: Christophe doesn't look up. "It's northeast of Lumbertown."

[JadedDM]: Terrah:  "It's the small one to the far north, near the border."

[Lon]: Lon rolls his eyes but continues looking at the map. "Which one's Lumbertown?" Lon whispers.

[Psyche]: Psyche takes a step forward to avoid being hit from Nari. "When I saw them, Kestrel was treating a wound that Wedge had."

[JadedDM]: Nari:  "He's hurt?  Is it bad?"

[Viarra]: "I think it's that one," Viarra whispers back, and then stands, walks over to the map and points. 

[Psyche]: "He was in pain, but it didn't look all that bad. Plus, Kestrel was there so I'm sure she took really good care of him."

[Lon]: "Oh, thanks," Lon says. "That looks pretty far."

[Viarra]: "Yeah, it does," Viarra agrees. 

[JadedDM]: Terrah:  "It looks like a five day ride or so."

[Psyche]: "It is kind of far, but it is worth it. Kestrel is a Priestess of Azedeth and Wedge is a very good fighter. Plus, I promised Luke that if I ever found him..." Psyche sighs softly.

[Christophe]: Christophe rubs his chin. "Mm... but you have to factor in the rocky terrain you have to navigate through there..."

[JadedDM]: Terrah looks back at the map.  "Yeah...that's right."

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "The Roughlands.  Yeah, they can slow you down."

[Psyche]: "We haven't decided if we are going there yet though. It is something to consider. For all I know, the rest of you might have other ideas on what we should do."

[Lon]: "Plus, we'll need to stop over at Janus to get supplies," Lon murmurs.

[Christophe]: Christophe looks to Psyche. "I agree that it would be in our interests to make contact with Kestrel again, but I know of a small window of opportunity for us to gain a fair amount of riches while at the same time, staying within a decent distance of our base. Just a few days ride from here in fact... about the same distance Janus is to us. But if we delay longer than a week, I'm afraid the chance will be gone."

[Psyche]: "Why would it be gone?"

[Christophe]: "I'll fill you in on the details, if you'd like." Christophe turns to the singer. "Viarra, have you ever heard the tale of Solnack the wizard?"

[Viarra]: "I'm afraid I haven't."  Viarra shakes her head and smiles.

[Christophe]: "He was a drow who carried out some rather cruel and disturbing experiments on helpless subjects. It's unknown exactly what he did, but it must have been pretty terrible for the drow in Legar to exile him. Solnack had to go on the run after that, but his people continued to pursue him wherever he attempted to set up a new lab. Tired of running, Solnack set up a lab for himself at the base of the Pride Mountains and warded it with a number of traps and protective spells." Christophe lets the story sink in for a moment before continuing.

[Viarra]: The smile quickly fades off of Viarra's face and is replaced by a look of disgust.  She sits back down, again, though, but still seems to be paying attention to Christophe's tale. 

[Psyche]: Psyche sits down letting the information sink in as she listens to Christophe.

[Christophe]: "Eventually, Solnack had to make an occasional supply run to Janus... to restock supplies and snag a hapless commoner or two. It was on one of these runs to Janus that the drow finally caught up with him. Their attacks were so relentless that they killed him before they could learn the secret of how to enter his lab. The drow were satisfied enough that Solnack was now dead though, and left the cavern alone."

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "Wait a second," she interrupts.  "If that's true, that cavern was emptied out long ago.  The Overlord hordes any magical items in the area."

[Psyche]: "Not if it is protected still."

[Christophe]: Christophe nods at Psyche. "Exactly. This lair of the wizard contains quite a few treasures, according to the tales. Solnack traveled with his entire arcane library, which could be of considerable interest to you, Psyche. He also had a stockpile of coins minted in Legar hundreds of years ago, the value of which must have jumped tremendously by now... and then there's the artifact..." Christophe's face grows slightly grim.  "It's a 'key' of some sort. Nobody seems to know exactly what it is but Quar'toth, who has developed a serious interest in Solnack's lair recently. I can only speculate that it's some type of magical device or weapon that will give the bastard even more power. If we were to get our hands on this artifact before the Overlord can..." Christophe nods ominously. "Well, I think you'd all agree it would be in our best interests."

[JadedDM]: Terrah and Tugh both jump slightly at hearing the Overlord's name spoken aloud out of reflex.

[Christophe]: Christophe takes a breath. "Here's the catch.... my new young friend in Janus, Brigin, told me about it after I bought him a few drinks. It would seem that Brigin's superior intends to send a contingent of Bloodguard to the caverns next week, after the rest of his men return from Mudde. It seems our antics there caused quite a stir..." Christophe smirks slightly. "Anyway, the captain intends to present this 'key' to the Overlord himself in return for considerable favour and a promotion of some sort. So we only have a small window of opportunity to get to this cavern and get out with the goods before a horde of Bloodguard come to tear the place apart."

[Psyche]: Psyche glances to Terrah and Tugh for a moment, holding back a small smile before turning back to Christophe.

[Lon]: Lon chews the last remnants of meat to stew on the tremendous amount of information Christophe has given.

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "How come the Overlord hasn't ever sent anyone in there before?"

[Viarra]: "He probably didn't know or care what this Solnack character was up to, or what he possessed." 

[Psyche]: "It is probably because he didn't know how to get past the protection spells upon it, so if that is the case, he must know something we don't."

[Viarra]: "Psyche, did Kestrel and Wedge seem to be in any particular danger when you found out about them?" 

[Psyche]: "Well, keep in mind that the last time we were in Edge was full of zombies."

[Lon]: "Could we try to delay the Bloodguard from their journey?"

[JadedDM]: Nari:  "Don't remind me," she says to Psyche.

[Viarra]: "I see."  Viarra's brow creases in thought.  "How is it that you were able to look in on them?  Is there any way you could bring them back with you?" 

[Christophe]: "According to Brigin, the number of Bloodguards will be quite high. We couldn't engage them with our few numbers and hope to survive."

[Psyche]: "The spell is Clairvoyance. I am able to look into any place that I've been to before. I don't have it memorized right now, but I could possibly do it again to make sure that they are okay. Honestly, it did seem like the town was getting back on its feet, considering its tavern had a few people in it. I didn't see zombies."

[Lon]: "I didn't mean engage them directly." Lon shudders at the thought. "There might be another way. If we had Kestrel and Wedge, it would help a lot with Solnack's cavern."

[Christophe]: Christophe folds his hands in front of him. "Look, I would love to have Kestrel with us again, but we've already waited here at the Tower a month. Waiting one more week while we stockpile some more for our treasury wouldn't be a bad idea at all. The renovations on this tower have only begun, there are still weak spots all over the place, horse feed isn't exactly cheap in Janus, we have precious few furnishings, and we desperately need to hire some strong swordsmen to help defend this place if need be."

[Psyche]: "But...we need a person who can heal too."

[JadedDM]: Terrah:  "Psyche, I know some first aid," she points out.

[Viarra]: "I tend to agree with Christophe.  If the town seems to be doing fine, and Kestrel and Wedge don't seem to be in any immediate danger, we should take this chance while we have it." 

[Christophe]: Christophe nods respectfully to Viarra.

[Viarra]: Viarra looks marginally surprised and smiles slightly back at Christophe.

[Psyche]: Psyche closes her eyes for a moment. "Okay, I can let my personal feelings get involved with this. Kestrel is like a sister to me and my first instinct is to go after her. If it was Edara...I would pretty much tell all of you that I would be going to Edge Elm, no questions ask, but Kestrel can take care of herself as can Wedge."

[JadedDM]: Nari:  "You can't be serious..."

[Psyche]: "Nari, this gives us a chance to have something that the Overlord doesn't have. We have information that he doesn't know we have, and we should take the chance while we still have it. You know Wedge would probably agree to this."

[JadedDM]: Nari's mouth drops, but she quickly closes it.  "Fine.  All right.  I'll go by myself then."

[Christophe]: "Don't be foolish, Nari."

[Psyche]: "Nari, listen, I'll continue to check up on both of them, but we need you right now. I'll keep you updated on their condition and everything and once we are done with this cavern, we can go after them." Psyche thinks for a moment. "I think even one of the scrolls I have has a spell in which I could perhaps send a message to them."

[Lon]: Lon speaks up. "We'll need someone to defend the tower. Someones, actually."

[Christophe]: Christophe nods in agreement. "Yes, I believe at least two should remain behind to mind the place while we're gone."

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "Sounds great.  So me and who else?"

[Christophe]: Christophe looks at Tugh. "Actually, I thought Nari and Terrah could stay behind while you come with us."

[Lon]: "I don't think so, Tugh," Lon says. "You go where the horses go."

[JadedDM]: If not for the fact Tugh's skill was all ready green, you're quite certain she would have turned a sickly green anyway.  "Wh....what?" she squeaks.

[Psyche]: "They are right. You would be useful."

[Viarra]: Viarra smiles reassuringly at Tugh. "Without you, how would our horses get along?" 

[Christophe]: "Your people can see in the dark, Tugh. You would be a help in a cavern."

[JadedDM]: Tugh's jaw now drops, and she looks to person to person.  "Bu....bu-bu-bu-but...what good are horses in a cave?"

[Christophe]: "We wouldn't take the horses inside, obviously."

[Psyche]: "The horses aren't going underground, but you are. Like Christophe said, you can see in the dark meaning that you might be able to see traps before we can."

[Viarra]: "I think I have the seeing-in-the-dark thing covered.  Tugh can wait outside with the horses, if it would make her feel better." 

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  " want to drag me into a cavern that was owned by a gobbin' drow that's probably full of monsters and booby-traps?"

[Psyche]: "Tugh, do you honestly think we would take you there if we didn't think you could do it?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh furrows her brow.  "What's in it for me then?  I mean...if you're going to ask me to risk my neck in some dank hole..."

[Viarra]: "What would you like out of it?" 

[Psyche]: "What do you want...that we can offer right now?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "Well, uh...," she hesitates, having not thought that part out.  "Money.  Lots of it."

[Psyche]: "We don't have a lot of that right now. You probably want it to take care of the horses, which I have all ready promised you I would give you some."

[Christophe]: "Wait, wait.... how much money do you want?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh blinks.  "Well, uh...enough to...completely stock the stables's say...fiv--no, six hundred gold pieces."

[Lon]: Lon raises his eyebrows.

[Christophe]: "You do realize that completing our defenses of the actual tower is higher on our priority list?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh sits up, a little bit more confident now.  "And to do that, you have to raid that cavern, and you need me to do it, right?"

[Christophe]: "We're not going to make much profit if we have to spend chunks of it on the stables instead of say, the outer wall. What if I paid you a few platinum pieces now out of my own pocket and a few more when we completed the job... in addition to your share we take from the cavern?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh tilts her head.  "Share?  I get a share?"

[Psyche]: Psyche sits back and listens to the two of them for the moment. "You are a part of the New Dawn. You get your own share."

[Viarra]: "Only if you come with us,” Viarra says.

[JadedDM]: Tugh hesitates, conflicted.  "Uh...all right.  But...only if you all promise not to get me killed."

[Viarra]: "Have we yet?"  Viarra smiles.

[Psyche]: "We will do what we can, Tugh. Of that, I promise."

[JadedDM]: Tugh slumps back into her chair.  "Shadowbite help me."

[Psyche]: "All right, so we are going to the cavern. That much is settled, but we have a few more things to discuss."

[Viarra]: Viarra turns an attentive gaze to Psyche, but only briefly. 

[Psyche]: "We need allies and we need a certain main goal. We have pretty much just running off of chance and things and we can't do that any longer."

[Lon]: "What do you suggest we do?"

[Christophe]: "Hasn't our goal always been to rid this land of the Overlord?"

[Viarra]: Viarra just shrugs and her gaze wanders around the room, aimlessly. 

[Psyche]: "It has but there are different ways to get rid of him. If that is still our goal, then we need to cover that main goal up to gain support of the common man."

[JadedDM]: Tugh becomes withdrawn into herself, apparently contemplating her upcoming death.

[Christophe]: "I have always agreed with that theory... but you must all be able to deal with the manipulation you are imposing on others if we do that."

[Viarra]: "I promise, it won't be that bad,” Viarra whispers to Tugh, and pats her hand. 

[Psyche]: "True, but we need to figure out what kind of cover story we are going to propose to these people. Are we just simple adventures trying to rid Bloodtooth of monsters and such? In a way we would be working with the enemy. In a sense...keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."

[Christophe]: "Some might buy into New Dawn if it was promoted as a radical-thinking political party. Of course, it would still appear to be subservient to the Overlord and his rulings."

[Psyche]: "That could work, and it would probably end up appealing to some of the nobles in the areas as well."

[Lon]: "What about the Halo in the vision?"

[Christophe]: "Your idea of simple adventurers is fine... but it may not work for a commoner or a noble. What common man would want to join up or get behind a group of monster hunters? The people of this land are choked with apathy towards such things."

[Viarra]: "Indeed.  I think that apathy is our real problem."  Viarra glances at Psyche. 

[JadedDM]: Nari sits back and folds her arms, pouting slightly.

[Psyche]: "I think fear is what holding people back. Though, it is probably a combination of both." Psyche glances to Lon. "As for the Halo...well, I'll get to that in a moment, as there are some thing I should mention to all of you."

[Lon]: Lon rests his chin on the stone table, restless.

[Viarra]: The mandolin is back in Viarra's hands, and she's strumming a calming tune, but her eyes are still on Psyche.

[JadedDM]: As Viarra plays, the mandolin quivers a bit, as if it was alive and she was tickling it.

[Viarra]: Viarra, a look of surprise on her face, stops playing for a few moments.  The muscles in her shoulders tense. 

[Psyche]: Psyche takes a deep breath. "I suppose the cover story can wait. As I mentioned a month ago and as Viarra all ready knows, in detail. I've been having dreams that deal with the Halo."

[Christophe]: Christophe looks around the room. "And?"

[Lon]: "You mentioned something about that, yeah."

[Psyche]: "Well, I must ask first. Have all of you heard of the Dark Mist?"

[JadedDM]: Terrah:  "Of course.  It's a very common legend."

[Christophe]: "Hushed whispers and such, yes."

[JadedDM]: The mandolin ceases movement when she stops playing.

[Viarra]: Once Viarra satisfies herself that the mandolin is no longer moving, Viarra continues her calming song, very near to where she left off. 

[Psyche]: "According to this dreams, as a little girl, the Dark Mist managed to take control over me. My mother and sister knew it was taking hold, but they thought that there was nothing they could do. It was then my sister met an old man, whose name is Cefka. He mentioned the Halo and how it can purge the dark mist from someone. She was determined to cure me, so she made a deal with Cefka and Cefka some how managed to take over her body. I haven't had the dreams lately, but I have a feeling that if we can find my sister, we can find out more about the Halo and I'm sure I'll learn more if the dreams continue."

[JadedDM]: This time, as Viarra plays, red whorls of energy begin to snake around the instrument.

[Christophe]: Christophe's face is blank. "So you think the dreams are real... and not a metaphor for something?"

[Lon]: Lon looks at Viarra, startled. "What are you doing?"

[Psyche]: "I remember very little about when I was a little girl, but these dreams did not start until after we met my sister and I started wearing the ring that was left behind." Psyche glances to Viarra for a moment, raising an eyebrow.

[Christophe]: "So you will add finding Ceara to the 'to-do' list then.... alright."

[Viarra]: Viarra frowns at the mandolin and stops playing.  She murmurs something under her breath at it.

[JadedDM]: The red energy whorls quickly slink back into the mandolin as soon as she stops playing.

[Psyche]: "Exactly." Psyche clears her throat. "One last thing before we get ready to go to that cavern, allies. I have a few ideas and they are going to be a little odd, but it might work. Before I joined the rebels, I lived with a tribe of orcs, the Black Crow Tribe...and then a clan of goblins, the Redwolf Clan. It is possible that we might be able to use them as a safety net if we ever need to. The goblins might be a little trickier, but if Black Snake is still around for the orcs, I might be able to make arrangements with him."

[JadedDM]: Terrah eyes the mandolin warily.  "Is it...supposed to do that?"

[Christophe]: "Hmm... if we were to ever raise an army at some point, orcs would make quite fearsome infantry troops."

[Viarra]: "It is enchanted to charm fire elementals."  Viarra says.  "I had no idea that it was so...showy." 

[Psyche]: "They would. Right now though, from what I know, they are still neutral, but it is worth the effort, so perhaps we can add that to the list as well."

[JadedDM]: Terrah:  "Maybe it is affected by the tune?  Some kind, to go with the music?" she proposes.

[Viarra]: Viarra shoots an approving look at Terrah and nods.  "Could be." 

[Christophe]: Christophe looks unimpressed at the light show coming from the mandolin. "Alright, well unless anyone has anything else to add, I suggest we gather our gear and prepare ourselves for the journey ahead. Psyche, I'll show you exactly where this place is located on the map."

[JadedDM]: Terrah:  "What happens if you play and upbeat?"

[Lon]: "Tugh, didn't you say we needed more horse feed?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh nods sullenly.  "Yep."

[Viarra]: "I'm suddenly not sure I should find out in a crowded room, but, if you want to watch later, we can find out."

[Lon]: "How many days?" Lon asks patiently.

[Psyche]: Psyche stands, glancing to Nari for a moment and sighs before she walks over to Christophe. "Is there anything else I should know about this place, Christophe?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh blinks and rubs at her forehead.  "Well...if we're all going but two...that means there's only one horse staying behind, would keep him fed for about five days."

[Christophe]: Christophe leans in very close to Psyche and whispers. "Only that a few foolish adventurers have met their doom trying to raid the place. But uh... don't tell the others that."

[Lon]: "Yes, but what about our horses?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "Should be enough to feed each of them for seven days."

[Psyche]: Psyche looks sharply at Christophe. "That....that is kind of important information," she whispers back. "But you are right, they shouldn't know."

[Christophe]: Christophe gives her a reassuring pat on the back. "Relax. You're the expert on magic... and Lon and Tugh can find any traps waiting for us. We'll be just fine."

[Psyche]: "Right..." Psyche suddenly doesn't look so sure of herself. "So where is this place?"

[Christophe]: Christophe shows her on the map. Southeast of Janus, due east of the Grey Mines.

[JadedDM]: Terrah:  "I can ride to Janus while you're gone to get more feed," she offers.

[Psyche]: "So...okay. You wouldn't know how big the cavern is would you?"

[Christophe]: Christophe shakes his head. "No, but I know of several landmarks around the immediate area that will tell us when we're approaching the entrance."

[JadedDM]: Nari walks out without another word.

[Psyche]: Psyche watches Nari walk out before looking to Christophe. "Have everyone to get ready and give Tugh some money for the horses. I need to talk to Nari."

[JadedDM]: Tugh slips out of her chair.  "I'll go prepare the horses.  And give my last rites to the shadow god."  She heads out.

[Christophe]: Christophe nods and goes to grab his money and his gear. "Everyone get what you need and meet up at the stables."

[Psyche]: Psyche runs off to find Nari and to grab her stuff for the trip.

[Lon]: Lon arrives at the stables after taking a short detour to gather his few belongings.

[JadedDM]: Nari is out in the main hallway, leaning against the stone staircase with her arms crossed and her head down.

[Psyche]: Psyche slowly approaches the girl. "Nari...I'm sorry. I know how much Wedge means to you."

[JadedDM]: Nari raises her head just enough to make eye contact with Psyche.  "Psyche...when...when we were swallowed in that darkness...I had to relive every regret and mistake I ever made."

[Psyche]: "And he was one of your regrets?" Psyche asks softly.

[Viarra]: Viarra is not too far behind Lon.  When she arrives in the stables, she looks up towards the rafters.  After several moments, a brown owl comes flying down.  Viarra opens the covered cage she is carrying.  The owl gives Viarra a tired look, and she puts a dead rat in the cage.  "Come on," she coaxes the owl.  With another baleful look, the owl, Spot, hops into the cage.  Viarra re-covers it, and begins to load up Fluffy. 

[JadedDM]: Nari:  "I didn't even know it at the time.  Or maybe I did, but I just tried to ignore it.  Too much was going on.  By the time I realized how I felt...he was gone.  It was too late.  And I thought he was dead."

[Christophe]: Christophe, having gathered his belongings, arrives at the stables. He takes a few pieces of platinum and places them in Tugh's hands. "Half now, half later, plus your share."

[Psyche]: "Then take comfort in the fact that he is alive, Nari, and you won't have to think of him as a regret anymore. We will go after him, Nari. I am not going to leave anyone behind, except one person, but I have no choice in that one."

[JadedDM]: Nari stands up and uncrosses her arms.  "You better hurry back, Psyche.  Because I can't promise to wait too long."  And with that, she heads upstairs.

[JadedDM]: Tugh accepts the shiny, white coins with a reverence and awe.

[Psyche]: Psyche watches her walk upstairs before she grabs her stuff and runs to meet up with the rest of the group at the stables.

[JadedDM]: After pocketing the coins, Tugh sets up everyone's horse and saddles them, except for Earthshaker.

[Lon]: Lon mounts stubborn Glas, ready to ride.

[Psyche]: "I hope I made the right decision here," Psyche says softly and she pulls herself up on Snow Dancer.

[JadedDM]: Tugh mounts Valora and notices the owl.  "Viarra...what's with the...the...what is that thing, anyway?  Some kind of pigeon?"

[Christophe]: Christophe gets aboard Sorza without any trouble.

[Viarra]: "That's Spot."  Viarra smiles at the owl.  After she's mounted Fluffy, she checks the cages cover, making sure that it's in place. 

[Psyche]: Psyche glances over to Viarra. "When did you get an owl?"

[Viarra]: "Not too long ago." 

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "More importantly, why did you get one?"  She kicks Valora forward in a light trot.

[Psyche]: "A familiar?" Psyche asks as she nudges Snow Dancer forward.

[Viarra]: "Yep."  Viarra spurs Fluffy into a trot. 

[Christophe]: Christophe rides along, occasionally glancing up at the dark clouds above.

[JadedDM]: The dark, ominous clouds are indeed a warning.  Thunder rumbles in the background and occasionally one sees a flash of lightning on the horizon as the party rides onward.  By nightfall, the clouds have opened up and unleashed a deluge of rain upon them.  Tugh, however, with her nightvision, is able to find a small cave for shelter for the night.

[Psyche]: Psyche shakes her head much like how a dog would shake out its fur once in the cave. "Horrible traveling weather," she mutters as she dismounts from Snow Dancer.

[JadedDM]: The cave is abandoned and just ample enough in size to accommodate the party and their horses.  After getting the mounts settled, Tugh collapses on the ground and moans.

[Lon]: Lon sits on the rock floor, trying to get comfortable despite his shivering.

[Christophe]: Christophe finds a small cubby for his bedroll and manages to give off the appearance of being comfortable.

[Viarra]: Viarra raises her hand to protect her face from Psyche's watershed.  She sets the cage down, near the opening of the cave and let’s Spot out, to hunt for the night, if she can.  Once situated, she begins to wring water out of her dress, but stays within the realm of decency. 

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "This is shaping up to be a great quest so far."

[Psyche]: "Sorry," Psyche says to Viarra as she sits down, looking out into the night. "It will get more interesting, Tugh."

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "Yeah, sure.  I'm all ready cold and wet, and we haven't even reached the cavern of death yet."  She grumbles as she hugs herself.  "Hey, Viarra.  How about a song or something?"

[Viarra]: "I think that could be arranged."  Viarra smiles. 

[Psyche]: "We aren't going to die, Tugh. Let’s try to stay a little positive....please?"

[Viarra]: Viarra clears her throat and slowly walks about the cavern.  As she walks, it's apparent she's concentrating.  When she begins to sing, it's apparent that she's singing about how a clever, intrepid goblin named Tuff survives several adventures in the unfortunately named Cavern of Death.

[JadedDM]: Again, the mandolin begins to glow and give off energy as she plays.  Tugh listens to the tune and smiles, enjoying it.

[Psyche]: Psyche grins a bit at the song as she leans her head up against the cavern wall and closes her eyes, not really all worried about the mandolin and its magical properties.

[Viarra]: The tune continues on for some time, and a mildly concerned look crosses Viarra's face as she plays the mandolin.  She cuts the song off a bit shorter than it normally would have been; it ends with Tuff the intrepid goblin becoming richer than his wildest dreams. 

[JadedDM]: As the song ends, the energy seems to come to a head, form together, and then leap out of the mandolin in a snake of flame.  This flame gathers on the ground and transforms into a humanoid figure with red skin, flaming hair, and demonic features.

[Lon]: Lon claps politely when Viarra finishes her song.

[Psyche]: Psyche opens her eyes and she jumps up." Hey!!"

[Viarra]: "What the...?!"

[Christophe]: Christophe carefully rises and begins slowly backing away. "Uhm... Uhmmm....."

[JadedDM]: The flaming creature stands to its full height of five feet and stretches, wiggling his fingers and toes.  "Blazes!  A body could go barmy being hipped in such a small birdcage."  The figure smacks his lips, blinks, and then looks around in confusion.  "Huh?  Wha...this ain't the tower..."

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "Gob!" she cries and scurries to the far end of the cave.

[Psyche]: ", it isn't the tower. Um...who are you?"

[Viarra]: "Sorry,” Viarra says to the flame man. 

[Lon]: Lon's rubs his eyes, thinking he might have gotten water in them. When the apparition fails to go away, he stares at it with his mouth hanging open.

[JadedDM]: Creature:  "Name's Charr."  He looks around again.  "Where's Frilothan?  And Bolero?"  He puts his hands on his hips.

[Psyche]: "Frilothan is, from what I know, dead and I'm not sure who Bolero is."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Blazes!"  He seems honestly surprised.  "Well, can't say I didn't warm him.  Berk shouldn't mess with the dark of Zenan, you scan?  Just leads to getting your name in the dead-book."

[Psyche]: Psyche looks directly to Viarra for a moment before turning her attention to the fire man. "Dark of Zenan?"

[Viarra]: Viarra looks surprised and back to Psyche and shrugs back.

[Lon]: Lon's brows furrow, as he tries to make sense of the creature's strange way of talking.

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Well, bar that.  Which one of you cutters set me free then?"

[Viarra]: "I guess that'd be me,” Viarra says.

[JadedDM]: Charr crosses his arms and looks her up and down.  "Well, if I'm going to be hipped here, at least it's with a hot wench," he says with resign.

[Viarra]: "What do you mean, hipped here?" 

[Christophe]: Christophe returns to his bedroll when it is apparent the creature intends no harm.

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Hipped.  Stranded. Stuck.  What're you all Clueless?"  He sighs and puts a hand to his flaming head.  "Blazes, of course you all.  What am I saying?"

[Viarra]: "What are you?" Viarra asks. 

[Psyche]: "A fire imp."

[Viarra]: "Ah." 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Natch," he says to Psyche, pointing at her with both fingers.  He then looks back to Viarra.  "From the City of Brass itself.  Well, I banged around the Cage, too.  Which is why Frilothan scragged me, the sodding old bastard."

[Viarra]: "Why he put you in the mandolin?"

[Psyche]: "Natch...City of Brass . Is anyone understanding this?"

[Viarra]: "Not particularly." 

[Lon]: "You mean, you're not?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "He didn't.  That addle-cove apprentice of his did.  Bolero.  Fancied himself a bard."

[Viarra]: "So, why did Bolero put you in the mandolin?"

[Psyche]: "Um...afraid not, Lon." Psyche laughs faintly, finally sitting back down.

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "To keep me on this plane.'s complicated.  See...I come from Zenan.  You scan me so far?"

[Viarra]: "I think so." 

[Psyche]: "Okay, so a fire imp from the fire plane. That does make sense. Though what did Bolero and Frilothan want with you?"

[Lon]: "I thought if anyone would be able to understand this guy, it'd be you..."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Right, so...well, I can't exist on this plane for very long.  It's too cold and damp.  So, that tone-deaf berk, Bolero, turned his mandolin into a conduit, see?  It's like...a pocket plane of fire that I can live in.  He bound it to me, so I can't go far from it.  Frilothan wanted to use me to get the chant on Zenan, scan?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh slowly creeps back a few steps, seeing that the imp doesn’t' seem hostile.

[Psyche]: "Frilothan kept you around to learn more about Zenan. What did he want to know about the place?" Psyche glances to Lon. "I'm working on it."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Berk wanted the power of Zenan.  To become a genasi.  Barmy old coot," he spats.

[Viarra]: "How do we put you back in the mandolin?  Or, can you stay out for good, as long as you don't go too far from it?"

[Psyche]: "What is a genasi?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Go back in?  I just got out.  If you play the same tune, though, it'll take me back.  If I'm hurt too badly, I'll go back too."  He looks around again at the cave.  "What happened to the tower? long have I been in that bloody thing?"

[Psyche]: "Well, the tower isn't too far from here. We are traveling at the moment...and I would say you've been in there for a very long time."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "It was 624 when I last was let out."

[Viarra]: "It's been a while..." 

[Psyche]: "Uh...forty-two years then."

[JadedDM]: Charr seems to sway a bit.  "Blazes.  No wonder my body's so cramped."

[Psyche]: Psyche grins. "Well, it looks like you are kind of stuck with us now, so I'm Psyche. The girl who let you out is Viarra." Psyche motions to Lon. "That's Lon. The goblin is Tugh. "Psyche motions over to Christophe. "And that is Christophe."

[Christophe]: Christophe nods from his apparent slumber. "Must be terrible being trapped within something so small for so long..."

[JadedDM]: Charr tilts his head and sniffs the air.  "You all are primes, right?"

[Viarra]: "All what?"

[Psyche]: "Primes? Uh...yes?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Huh."  He shrugs.  "Oh, well."

[Viarra]: Viarra just looks confused.  "I don't know if I remember that song." 

[Psyche]: "Well, I told you it had something to do with fire elementals and controlling them, Viarra. I didn't realize it could do this though."

[JadedDM]: The fire imp turns back to Viarra.  "Enough wigwag, though.  Guess you're my new master then.  I hope you have more sense in your brain-box than that berk, Frilothan."

[Viarra]: "I'm not going to do any weird experiments on you, or anything, but I'm not your master." 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "I don't have any say in the matter, angelcakes.  If you played the mandolin, then we're stuck with each other.  Best to tumble that out now."

[Viarra]: "When you're in your mandolin, can you see what's going on in this plane?"

[JadedDM]: The imp shakes his head.  "It's like being in another world.  A very small world."

[Viarra]: Viarra sighs in relief and murmurs her sympathies.

[Psyche]: "Well, looks like we have a little extra help now."

[Viarra]: "He'll come in handy in that cavern."

[JadedDM]: Charr sucks in his breath and blows out a small bit of flame.  "I do have some handy talents."

[Psyche]: "Do you?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Hey, don't let the handsome looks fool you.  I'm more than just a pretty face."

[Psyche]: Psyche rolls her eyes at Charr. "Right...well, what else can you do other than stand there and...burn?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "I can fight.  Got a few tricks.  Zenan is my kip after all.  It's in my blood."

[Psyche]: "You wouldn't by any chance know what the Halo is would you?" Psyche shrugs slightly, figuring it is worth the try at least.

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Halo?  Hmm...sorry.  Sounds like more of an upper plane kind of thing."

[Psyche]: "Upper plane?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Blazes, you're clueless.  You know.  Heaven?"

[Psyche]: "I don't deal with different planes all that much. You have to forgive me."

[Viarra]: Viarra gulps audibly.  "And you're from a..... lower...... plane?"

[JadedDM]: Charr waves a dismissive hand at Viarra.  "Bar that thought, sweets.  I'm from Zenan.  It's an inner plane."

[Psyche]: "How many different kinds of planes are there?"

[JadedDM]: Charr glances at Lon.  "Hey, kid.  Paint a picture.  It will last longer."  He glances to Psyche.  "More than you can count, I'd wager."

[Psyche]: "Well, I figure we will learn something off each other sooner or later. I think is a good idea if we all get some sleep now though."

[Viarra]: Viarra picks up the mandolin.  "Sorry,” she says to Charr. "I'll let you back out again, soon, though." 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "But we were just starting to really connect, I felt."

[Lon]: "He can keep watch," Lon says jokingly.

[Viarra]: "I know."  Viarra frowns.  "We'll have all sorts of time to connect, though.  Promise." 

[Psyche]: Psyche snickers at Lon. "Actually, I'll take first watch. If he wants to stay out, might as well let him."

[Viarra]: "Well, do realize, I'll have to sing and play to put him back.  Can't really do that quietly." 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Hey, what's that noise outside, anyway?  It sounds like bloody Pandemonium."

[Viarra]: "Rain."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Rain?  Never heard of it.  Does it taste good?"

[Psyche]: "Well, it is water."

[Viarra]: "It's a bunch of water falling from the sky."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Do...don't mess around with me like that."

[Viarra]: "I'm telling the truth,” Viarra says, not unkindly.

[Christophe]: "Step outside and check it our for yourself." Christophe seems to joke.

[JadedDM]: Charr growls.  "Hey!  I'm a top-rate cutter.  I've stared down balors and sent 'em packin' to their mamas.  I'm not afraid."  He marches toward the cave entrance.

[Viarra]: "No!"  Viarra shouts.

[Christophe]: "Uhhh...."

[Psyche]: "I really wouldn't go out there."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "AAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!"  He comes sprinting back, surrounded by a cloud of steam.  "Let me back in!  Let me back in!"

[Psyche]: "Oh, he's bright."

[Christophe]: Christophe almost slaps his forehead in disbelief. "It wasn't meant... oh, forget it..."

[Lon]: Lon squints through the steam, trying to wave it away from his face. "Please, Viarra."

[Viarra]: Viarra picks up the mandolin and begins to play.  "I told you so."  With a deep breath, she launches into the story of Tuff, the intrepid goblin and the unfortunately named Cavern of Death. 

[JadedDM]: Wisps of red energy surround the imp.  "The horror...the horr-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-r...," he gasps as his body dissipates and returns to the mandolin.

[Viarra]: The song ends as it did before, with Tuff becoming richer than he'd ever imagined.  When Viarra finishes the song, she gently puts the mandolin down, leans up against the cave wall, and slowly sinks to the floor.

[Psyche]: Psyche shakes her head in disbelief. "Everyone get some sleep."

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "What if it comes back while we're sleeping?"

[Viarra]: "He won't."

[Psyche]: "It won't come until it is summoned, so don't worry Tugh."

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "Gob...a demon."

[Viarra]: "Well, he's a very nice one,” Viarra says while she settles into her bedroll.

[Psyche]: "You don't have anything to worry about, Tugh. He isn't going to hurt us. Now get some sleep."

[Viarra]: "If a bit stupid,” she adds, as an afterthought.

[Christophe]: "There's a difference between an imp and a demon." He lowers his head for some rest.

[JadedDM]: Tugh glances at Christophe.  "Sure looked like a demon to me."  She settles down.

[Psyche]: Psyche stays up for the first watch while the others get some sleep.

[JadedDM]: The following day, the party is fortunate to find clear skies greeting them.  They travel the whole day without incident from neither weather nor demon.  However, on the morning of the third day, they spot a large caravan to the north of them.

[Psyche]: "I wonder," Psyche says as she continues forward.

[Lon]: Putting his hand over his eyes, he looks at the caravan with a bit of worry mixed in with curiosity. "What do you think it is?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh has her eyes covered by her hat, finding the sunlight rather irritating.

[Christophe]: "They could be... heading in the same direction as us..."

[Psyche]: Psyche glances at Christophe, "You said they wouldn't be heading out until next week though."

[Christophe]: Christophe looks at the horizon. "It doesn't have to be Bloodguard... do you see any identifying flags?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "Don't know how you can see anything in this light."

[Psyche]: Psyche looks towards the caravan again to see if she can see any flags.

[Lon]: "Do you think they can see us?"

[Viarra]: "I suppose they could, if we can see them..."

[Psyche]: "It is a slave caravan." Psyche frowns.

[Christophe]: Christophe sighs. "Unfortunately nothing to do with us... we should keep our heads down and keep moving."

[Viarra]: "Agreed.  Time we waste is time better spent.... elsewhere."

[Psyche]: "We just can't free them now. It will have to wait."

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "How much further to this cave anyway?"

[Psyche]: "About another day or so I think."

[JadedDM]: Tugh gulps.  "Great."

[Psyche]: "You'll be fine, Tugh. We'll keep you safe."

[Christophe]: "Mmm... see there, you can already see the shadow of the Pride Mountains on the horizon."

[JadedDM]: The party passes by the slave caravan, either unnoticed or simply ignored.  They travel onward until the night, when they make camp.  Tomorrow, they'll arrive at the cavern, if Christophe's directions proved right.

[Lon]: Lon helps prepare the camp, singing the words, "Off into the unknown" with one of Viarra's tunes.

[Psyche]: Psyche dismounts from Snow Dancer, yawning slightly as she starts to make up her own little spot for the night.

[Lon]: "How're Kestrel and Wedge?" Lon asks. "You said you could check on them.  What about the tower? Can you check on them, too?"

[Viarra]: Viarra dismounts from Fluffy, opens Spot's cage, and sets the owl free for the night.  "You're a good little owl."  She smiles at the creature, before getting her second cage out; the mandolin, and strumming a soft tune. 

[JadedDM]: Red whorls of energy swirl around the mandolin then collect in one spot on the ground to form Charr once again.  "Whoa...I'll never get used to that," he says.

[JadedDM]: Charr looks up at the empty, dark sky.  "Blazes...I don't know how you people stand this world.  It's freezing."

[Viarra]: "What's it like where you come from?"  Viarra asks. 

[JadedDM]: Charr turns to her.  "Hot.  All of the time.  Imagine a world where everything is on fire, and the fire never burns out.  That's Zenan."

[Viarra]: "Would you like a fire to warm yourself by?" 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "That would help, yeah."

[Psyche]: "Where exactly would you like me to check inside the tower, Lon?"

[Viarra]: Viarra sets about the business of setting a camp fire.  When it is lit, she holds her hands out to the flames. 

[JadedDM]: Charr steps into the fire and sits down in it.  "Ahhh....that's the stuff."

[Lon]: Lon blinks for a moment. "I'm not sure. Wherever Nari or Terrah would be, I guess."

[Viarra]: Viarra raises an eyebrow and gets the mandolin.  She begins to play a dancing tune, one different than the one she used to release Charr. 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "So, what's your game, luv?  I gather you give folks the laugh, but that's about it."

[JadedDM]: Tugh sits away from the fire (and Charr), over near Lon and Psyche.  On occasion, she tosses a wary glance the imp's way.

[Psyche]: "I'll see if I can check their rooms. First I'll check in on Kestrel and Wedge though." Psyche begins chanting the words to the spell that she wants to cast.

[Viarra]: "Excuse me?"  A confused smile crosses Viarra's face.  "Give folks the laugh...?" 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Entertain 'em."

[Viarra]: "That's mostly it."  Viarra concedes with a nod.  "And we wander around, looking for treasure." 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Ahh, so you're bashers then."

[Viarra]: Viarra nods.  "So, tell me.  What are other planes like?  Do you know?" 

[Psyche]: Psyche blinks her eyes a couple of times as she stares into the night, gathering the information that she needs. "Wedge is standing at a window, looking out and Kestrel seems to be asleep in a room."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Well, outside of Zenan, I've been to the Cage, and of course, the Prime.  Uhh...well, technically I haven't been to any other planes, but...I hear the chant on 'em now and again."

[Viarra]: "What's that like?" 

[Lon]: "That's good," Lon says.

[Psyche]: Psyche rubs at her eyes for a moment, shaking her head. "I wish I could use this spell to find Jerros."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Which one, luv?  Zenan, the Cage, or the Prime?  Well, you all ready know the chant of that last one, don't ya?"

[Viarra]: "I guess I do, if that's how I got you here.  But, all of them."  Viarra's eyes sparkle with interest. 

[Psyche]: Psyche starts up the same spell again after she recovers from the last one, to check on Terrah and Nari within the tower.

[JadedDM]: Charr shrugs.  "Well, this is the prime.  This dark...empty...cold realm.  The Mortal worlds are here.  Now, the Cage...Sigil.  There's a place a cutter like you would thrive, I'd bet."

[Viarra]: "Oh, yeah?"  A slight smile plays at Viarra's lips. 

[Psyche]: Psyche once against stares out into the night. "Nari is in her room, just lying there, staring at the ceiling. I'm not sure where Terrah is though."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Sigil is the city, sweets.  I mean THE city.  It's connected to every realm, to every world.  You can find bashers and cutters of all sorts there.  Demons, angels, and elementals like me.  Imagine the biggest city you've ever been to.  It's nothing compared to the Cage."

[Viarra]: "Why is it called the Cage?"  Viarra smiles. 

[JadedDM]: Charr seems to ponder this one a moment.  " some ways, Sigil is pure freedom.  And in some ways, it's a prison.  I guess it's like any city then, really."

[Lon]: "Hmm. She's probably around somewhere."

[Psyche]: "She is probably in her room doing the same thing." Psyche rubs at her eyes again. "We'll be back soon, and then we can go after Kestrel and Wedge."

[Viarra]: Viarra's face grows thoughtful.  "How do you go from realm to realm?" 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Some cutters use spells.  Some use gates.  In Sigil, you can only travel by gate, though.  Every door, window, arch and even cupboard can be a gate, if you have the right key."

[Viarra]: "The right what?"  Viarra looks incredulous.

[Psyche]: Psyche glances to Lon for a moment, giving her head a little tilt. "What is it like where you are from, Lon?”

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Key.  All gates need a key.  Just like regular doors, you tumble what I mean?  Without the key, a gate's useless."

[Viarra]: "Yeah, I'm with you."  Viarra looks somewhat breathless.  "Um, guys?"  She looks to her other companions.

[Lon]: Lon looks a little uncomfortable. "What do you mean?"

[Christophe]: "Yes, I heard what he was saying, Viarra."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Something I said?"

[Lon]: "What? What'd he say?" Lon asks.

[Christophe]: "You said the word 'key'. There's an artifact we're after that's supposed to be a key. Could be a coincidence...?"

[Viarra]: "I don't believe in coincidences,” Viarra says dryly. 

[Psyche]: "Well, I you have a family?" Psyche glances to Viarra and Charr. "Great, the Overlord is now looking for ways into other planes?"

[JadedDM]: Charr shrugs.  "I don't know the chant on that.  You're looking for a key?"

[Viarra]: "Well, yes, but we're looking to keep it out of the hands of a very bad man." 

[Lon]: Lon seems to not hear Psyche's question, instead focused on the conversation at hand. "Um, do you think Frilothan knew this, um.. Sol-Solnack?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Well....key's no good without a gate, and a gate's no good without a key."

[Psyche]: "That could be the reason why he is sending people for it. He has the gate and all he needs now is the key."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Gate to where, though?  Most planes would burn up a prime's body like that," he says, snapping his fingers for emphasis.

[Psyche]: "Who knows. What planes wouldn't burn up someone's body?"

[Viarra]: "The Cage, maybe?"  She thinks for a few more moments.  "And what about this Heaven you mentioned earlier?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Cage is safe, yeah.  So are the upper planes, some of the middle ones.  Some of the lower ones,'s not the terrain; it's the residents you got to watch for."

[Psyche]: "I don't think the Overlord would really care about the residents, honestly."

[JadedDM]: Charr looks to Psyche.  "Don't underestimate fiends, berk.  Even the worst mortal amongst you would piss himself and cry for mama after five minutes in the Abyss."

[Psyche]: "I'm not underestimating them. I'm just saying that if the Overlord is searching for more power, I doubt it whatever residents the planes hold are going to scare him...much."

[Viarra]: "What's the Abyss like?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Well, never been, angelcakes.  But I heard the chant.  Every cutter has.  They say it's got infinite layers, but nobody knows the dark for sure.  Chock full of tannar'ri, too, the craziest, most vicious demons you can ever have the misfortune of running into."

[Viarra]: Viarra glances at Psyche.  "Isn't there rumored to be some sort of demonic portal in the Daemon sector?"

[Christophe]: "You ever meet a tannar'ri, Charr?"

[Psyche]: "I don't know a lot about the Daemon sector, but I think I've heard that rumor as well."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "I've seen a few in the Cage, yeah.  They know better than to mess with us imps, though."

[Christophe]: "Hmmm..." Christophe grows silent again.

[Viarra]: "Well, if there really is a portal there, maybe the Overlord wants to control it?" 

[Psyche]: "It is possible, but it would take him awhile to get there. He has three other sectors to worry about right now though."

[Christophe]: Christophe seems to consider the possibilities. "Maybe he wants an army of beings from another plane... I'm sure that would put an end to any in-fighting between the different regions of Renosia in a hurry."

[Viarra]: "And the rest of the world." 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "And let the Blood War spill into this world, too, huh?  Why not?  Not the first time it happened."

[Psyche]: "Blood War?"

[Viarra]: "The Blood War?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "An eternal battle between the tannar'ri and the baatzeru."

[Lon]: Lon sits there agape at the thought. "That sounds scary."

[Psyche]: "Baatzeru?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Devils, berk.  The worst kind.  They're canny, cruel, and organized."

[Psyche]: "Maybe....maybe we are all just jumping to conclusions here too. We don't know what that key in this cavern really is. "

[JadedDM]: Charr laughs.  "Yeah, maybe it just unlocks the sod's daughter's chastity belt."

[Viarra]: "It never hurts to be prepared, though,” Viarra points out.

[Psyche]: "True, but we don't even know where to begin when it comes to other planes. It is hard enough keeping up with this plane."

[Viarra]: "Why is it called the Blood War?"  

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Because it's fought by Bloods.  And it's pretty bloody, I'd wager, yeah?"

[Psyche]: "Fought by Bloods?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Bloods.  People born outside the Prime.  Like me."

[Viarra]: "Why would you want to come to the Prime?" Viarra asks.  "I mean, there isn't much here for you...."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Tell me about it.  I didn't have any choice in the matter, though."

[Viarra]: "You just woke up one day, and you were here?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Bloody old coot Frilothan summoned me here.  And I was just about to make the move on this hot azgar wench, too."

[Viarra]: "Azgar?  What's that?" 

[Psyche]: "It is a dwarf that is on fire pretty much. We fought one in the battle arena."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Yeah.  So you can see why I don't much like the feeble old sod.  Glad he's in the dead-book."

[Viarra]: "Can't say I blame you there." 

[Psyche]: "Surely we primes aren't all bad."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "All the ones I've met so far haven't inspired me with much confidence."

[Lon]: "Are all imps like you?"

[Psyche]: Psyche glances to Lon.

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "They wish they were."

[Viarra]: Viarra chuckles softly.

[Psyche]: "You are just that great, Charr?" Psyche laughs.

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "You'll find out soon enough, when you see me in action."

[Christophe]: "Yes, you certainly showed that rain who was boss..."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Pike off, berk."

[Psyche]: "I personally love that steamy look."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "It's not my fault that this poorly designed world drops water from the bloody sky."

[Christophe]: Christophe does his best Draven impression. "Whatever."

[Psyche]: "Poorly designed?"

[Viarra]: "I did warn you."  Viarra frowns. 

[JadedDM]: Charr shrugs.  "So I have a few things to learn about the Prime.  I promise it's not nearly as much as you clueless need to learn about, well....every other place in the wheel."

[Viarra]: "That's probably a good point." 

[Psyche]: "I don't think we will ever get the chance to learn too much more, what with all that is going on around us right now."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Typical primes.  Think that their own problems are the most important in the multi-verse."

[Psyche]: "I don't think it is the most important, but there is only so much we can do."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Good point.  How much better would things be if the primes stayed in the Prime?"

[Viarra]: "Why don't you tell us?" Viarra suggests.

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "No Clueless?  That'd be a blessing.  Then again, without the Clueless, who would the coney-catchers peel?  So I guess everyone's good for something."

[Psyche]: "Coney-catchers peel?"

[Lon]: Lon holds his head. "Trying to crack your code is..."

[JadedDM]: Charr waves a dismissive hand at Psyche.  "Awww, forget it."

[Viarra]: "Please tell us?" 

[Psyche]: "Do we really want to know? It really doesn't sound all that great."

[JadedDM]: Charr sighs in resignation.  "Peel means to scam, babe.  And a coney-catcher is a scammer."

[Viarra]: "I do."  Viarra nods.  "What we don't know can only come around to bite us in the behinds later.  And a scammer would be...?"

[Lon]: "Plan on taking a trip any time soon, Viarra?" Lon asks sardonically.

[JadedDM]: Charr shakes his head sympathetically.  "One who scams, luv."

[Psyche]: "In other words, a cheat," Psyche says softly.

[Viarra]: Viarra chuckles.  "Not if I can help it,” she says to Lon, and then returns her attention to Charr.  "So, why scam us?  What do we have to offer?"

[JadedDM]: Charr shrugs.  "Depends on the scammer.  They could be after jink or looking to trick a berk into slavery.  Or if it's a demon, maybe after his soul."

[Psyche]: Psyche turns to Tugh, shaking her head slightly at the conversation with the fire imp. "Nanb'tu'qua?"

[Viarra]: "Oh, I see."  Viarra says.

[JadedDM]: Tugh looks up.  "What?  Oh.  Niewae."

[Psyche]: "You look worried."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Yep, the planes are a dangerous place.  Gotta keep be peery and stay on your toes."

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "I am."

[Psyche]: "Is there anyway I can set your mind at ease, Tugh? At least a little bit?"

[Viarra]: "Do you have a family, back home?" Viarra asks the fire imp.

[JadedDM]: Tugh shrugs.  "I'm not sure how helpful I'm going to be.  Unless you plan to just toss me into the traps to set them off.  But then I'm only useful once."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Yeah, sure."

[Viarra]: "Really?  Like, a mother and a father, and brothers and sisters?"  Viarra perks up slightly. 

[Psyche]: "I don't think we are going to toss you into the traps, Tugh." Psyche laughs faintly. "That wouldn't be a very good way to protect you from the danger either."

[JadedDM]: Charr nods.  "Yeah, we all got to come from somewhere, right?  Imps make imps, efreeti make efreeti, and salamanders make salamanders, natch."

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "I know I worked with bandits...but I didn't exactly work the field.  I mostly just groomed the horses.  And yeah, my people lived the Roughlands, though.  Not very deep."

[Viarra]: "I guess so.  I just wasn't sure just how different the planes were."  Viarra shrugs, "So, do you guys all have family get-togethers?  Celebrations?  Barbeques?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "There are sometimes nice shindigs in the City of Brass .  Hard to get an invite, though.  Unless you're a high-up."

[Psyche]: "Yet your people are known for setting up traps very well and getting past them without getting hurt. I use to live with goblins. I know."

[Viarra]: "What are the high-ups like?  Where do they come from?" 

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "I guess I'll be hoping I have good instinct.  Shadowbite guide me."

[JadedDM]: Charr blinks.  "Uh...well, high-up means an important person, sweets.  Like the Efreeti."

[Psyche]: "Do you faithfully follow Shadowbite, Tugh?"

[Viarra]: Viarra nods. "And what do they do at these parties?  The same stuff we all do?" 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Have fun, make merry, eat good food.  Blazes, I sure miss fire fruit.  It can only be found in Zenan.  My favorite food."

[JadedDM]: Tugh scratches at her head.  "Well...maybe not as well as I should.  I'm usually too busy with other things."

[Viarra]: "How will you survive on this plane?  Do you have any special dietary needs that I need to know about?" 

[Psyche]: "Have you ever thought that maybe there might be other Gods to follow?”

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Nah.  As long as I can get to some fire, I can recharge.  Or if I'm back in that bloody pocket realm."

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "Sure, there are lots of gods.  I never really thought about it, though."

[Psyche]: "So why follow Shadowbite then?"

[Viarra]: "You've been forty-some odd years without food?"  Viarra's face is the picture of scandal. 

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "He created us, my people."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Yeah, doesn't it burn ya up?"

[Psyche]: "That is the only reason why you follow him? Just because he created your people?"

[JadedDM]: Tugh shrugs.  "What better reason?"

[Viarra]: Viarra laughs at the joke.  "Is there any way you can take some fire with you into the pocket realm?  I'll let you out as much as I can, but, I'd hate to see you starve...." 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "It's okay, toots.  There's plenty of fire in the pocket realm."

[Psyche]: "Some people look towards their faith for...hope. It seems to me that you follow Shadowbite because your people do."

[JadedDM]: Tugh:  "Well, yeah.  But he is the patron of thieves, and I was a horse bandit...k-kind of."

[Viarra]: Relief washes over Viarra's features.  "Please forgive my questioning; I’ve never had a conversation with a fire imp before." 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Yeah?  You ever encounter anyone from Zenan before?"

[Psyche]: Psyche smiles faintly. "You don't have to follow Shadowbite to be a thief though, Tugh."

[JadedDM]: Tugh shrugs.  "I...guess so," she says, sounding a bit confused.

[Viarra]: "You're the first."  Viarra grins.  "And that one wacky guy that we just killed, but I think he was only trying to channel the realm of Zenan or something strange like that."

[Psyche]: Psyche glances over to Charr and Viarra. "Don’t forget those monkey things."

[Lon]: "Ah, just thinking about that guy makes my old wounds hurt."

[JadedDM]: Charr raises a brow.  "Wha?  Sounds like what Frilothan was planning on doing."

[Viarra]: Viarra casts a sympathetic glance at Lon.  "I can only imagine."  She then returns her attention to Charr, "Yes, this Ridikulus, Re... Ra... Whatever his name was, mentioned something about having completed Fritholan's work or something.  But, we stopped him." 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Monkey things?  Blisters?  Blazes, you tangled with blisters?"

[Psyche]: "They are called blisters?"

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Yeah.  Stupid, mindless beasts, they are.  They just consume everything they get their hands on."

[Psyche]: "Yeah, that sounds like them."

[Lon]: "By the way, Psyche, remind me never to listen to you next time you want to be alone with a hulking monster."

[JadedDM]: Charr ponders.  "You know, if someone did do what Frilothan set out to do...that could be bad."

[Psyche]: "If I didn't do it, we all probably would be dead right now."

[Viarra]: "It was bad."  Viarra agrees.  "But, at least we stopped him.  Though, he'd completed the ceremony and everything." 

[JadedDM]: Charr hisses.  "Oooh.  That berk Frilothan never really understood, although I gave him the dark of it.  Channeling power from Zenan can weaken the barrier between our two worlds."

[Lon]: "Maybe, but you really almost died," Lon replies.

[Viarra]: "What would happen if the barrier collapsed?"  Viarra's face clouds with thought. 

[Psyche]: "But I didn't mostly because of you."

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "Collapsed?  Nah, it'd take a power to do that.  But if it gets weaker, it might tear in spots.  Unstable gates would pop up all over the place."

[Viarra]: "Oh, lovely."  Viarra sighs.  "Would unstable gates allow blisters through?" 

[JadedDM]: Charr:  "It could let anything through, just about.  Blisters, grues, salamanders, fire snakes...even other imps."

[Viarra]: "Well, I guess that explains why we ran into those blisters...."  Viarra sighs again. 

[Lon]: Lon falls silent, abashed. "I guess."

[Psyche]: Psyche smiles to Lon. "The next time we need saving and I decide to do something like that again, I'll be more careful, okay?"

[Lon]: Lon blusters, "You should be careful. It was dangerous."

[Psyche]: "Lon, I'm sorry I worried you, but I think it had to be done. It is kind of my job to protect all of you."

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