Chapter 26

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While we were in town, those who could train did so.

          Navero, male human cleric, 4th level
          Dania, female 1/2-elf MU, 4th level
          Kortul, male human fighter, 4th level
          Razuli, male human fighter, 4th level
          Arlor, male dwarf thief, 4th level
          Kory, male elf bard, 3rd level
          Topash, male elf druid, 3rd level

     Kory got his training at Eristophanes' Lute Emporium in downtown
Propyla; he came back singing Purple Rain, for which he was severely
reprimanded.  We also went back to the great wise sage to see if he
had any information for us.

Kortul & Dania: (Enter Kilgurian's shop)

Kilgurian: (Sitting in midst of grand mess.) "Yes?  What do you want?"

Kortul: "Orb of Spheres."

Kilgurian: "You can't have it!  I've given your master enough of my
     goods!  I refuse to... wait a moment.  I don't have one.  Ha ha!
     Of course you can't have it!  I haven't got it!  Ha HA ha ha..."

Dania: "Uh, no, old master. Yesterday, Kortul came seeking information
     on the location of a magic item called the Orb of Spheres?"

Kilgurian: "What?...  Hm, well, let me see...  A large, hairy man with
     a broken nose, smelled bad...  I do seem to recall..."

Dania: "Yeah.  He looked a lot like this guy here."

Kilgurian: "By my soul!  You're the very picture of the man!  Well,
     how unfortunate for you.  Hear the latest on Princess Fytalior?"

Dania: "Yea.  Ugh.  I'd think all the scales would feel creepy."

Kilgurian: "Scales?  Oh, that's old news.  This latest was a Clay
     Golem designed and built by a priestess of Aphrodite.  Very
     interesting what some people do in their spare time.  Now... Robe
     of Sears?"

Dania: "Orb of Spheres."

Kilgurian: "No need to shout, I can hear perfectly well.  Well, so,
     ah.  Hm. Ah!  Afraid I can't help you.  No information on it.
     Terribly sorry.  You may have better luck at Paracelsus' Herbal
     Market, he keeps up on such things more than I do.  Whatever you
     do, don't go to that young fool over on Adamant Way!  He not only
     doesn't know anything useful, he is crass and disrespectful and a
     thief besides!  I know personally!  I've seen him sneaking about
     where he doesn't belong, always getting into this and that; no
     honest businessman, he!  Called me a brainless old fidget, he

Kortul: "Untrue.  Hardly fidget."

Kilgurian: "Thank you, young man.  Hm... what is that odor?  I've only
     just now smelled it, wonder what it could be..."

Dania: "Probably a rat.  Well, we must be going."

Kilgurian: "Sorry, sorry, payment for my services is expected."

Kortul: (Throws 5 gp, leaves)

Kilgurian: "But, but..."

Dania: "Thank you!" (Quickly exits)

Kilgurian: "Oh, well..."

Dania: "Shit, now what do we do?  Think we can get into the city?"

Kortul: "No.  Some might, those not easily recognized."

Dania: "Which leaves you out.  Even that old fart remembered you."

Kortul: "Orb not near, or sages would have _something_.  Find another
     town.  Should look west."

Dania: "Why west?"

Kortul: "Check out weather."

(Looking to the west, great black clouds could be seen near the
horizon.  They looked ominous and brooding, and were obviously not

Kortul: "Something magical."

Dania: "Yuck.  Something big.  How long has that been there?"

Kortul: "Since yesterday."

Dania: "It's probably not the Orb causing it.  I don't see why that
     way is better than any other.  In fact, we probably don't want to
     go riding into THAT.  That looks NASTY."

Kortul: "Dangerous."

Dania: "Yeah...  Lots of magic, do you think?"

Kortul: "Obviously."

Dania: "Well, we can go in that GENERAL direction.  And ask along the
     way.  Whatever's doing it will have lots of cash and magic

Kortul: "Probably."

Dania: "Well, then..."

     The great black clouds continued to build up larger and larger,
but were never accompanied by rain or wind.  They just spread like a
shadow, blocking out the sun.  In about a week (during which the
aforementioned training took place) they grew to cover one quarter of
the sky.  Several times, grim-faced messengers rode into town from the
west.  They never stopped to rest, no matter what time of day or
night, just rode straight into the city as if on matters of all-
consuming importance.  Many rumors spread: the great witch Taya Haygo
had returned, and was reclaiming her lands; the world was ending; a
great vampire was summoning up monstrous legions to conquer all
civilization; the God of the Sunset had the worst case of indigestion
in recorded history.  No one was sure, but everyone was willing to
speculate.  After a week had passed, Topash came back to us from the
woods and fields.  He seemed agitated, and quickly got the entire
group together for a discussion of the future.  Navero was still in
the main city, and so was not present.

Topash: "Well, hello again.  I hope the city has treated you well."

Razuli: "Druid, cut the crap and tell us what's goin' on."

Topash: "I wish I knew.  Something terrible is coming from the west."

Razuli: "No shit, Sherlock.  What's that got to do with us?"

Kory: "Now, now, calm down and give him a minute to catch his breath.
     Can't you see that public speaking doesn't come naturally to him?
     Ok, you can go on now.  And stop sweating."

Topash: "Thank you oh so very much.  I feel we must go and investigate
     the disturbance to the west, seek out its source, and do whatever
     is necessary to alleviate the strain to the natural forces."

Arlor: "Besides, the DM wants us to go there."

Kory: "Hush.  We're not supposed to talk about that."

Topash: "Well, I suppose that settles it.  Unless I hear objections?"

Razuli: "Why do we wanna go risking our necks in that mess?  We can't
     we just go out and hunt trolls, or kill another dragon, or
     something easy, and leave this to somebody else?  Find a paladin
     or somebody stupid who'll go charging in for nothing."

Dania: "You're forgetting the Orb of Spheres.  It might be in there."

Razuli: "Huh?  I ain't heard anything about that."

Dania: "Well, the Orb of Spheres is a device allowing travel between
     the vibratory planes of existence, right?  And use is often
     accompanied by strain to the local continuum, right?"

Razuli: "Huh?"

Dania: "You'd know about these things if you had any education.
     Suffice to say that the Orb could cause effects very much like
     those we now see, and the natural conclusion is obvious.  Q.E.B."

Topash: "There is no reason at all NOT to go there.  It will fulfill
     two of our purposes at once, and leave you free to go about your
     own business once again."

Razuli: "All right, all right!  Jeez.  Ok, we'll go."

Kory: "Right.  I shall locate our dear lost little Navero and we shall
     be on our merry way once again.  Oh, Dania: did I tell you I
     wrote a ballad?"

Dania: "Not interested."

Kory: "Oh, but you REALLY should be!  It's called `Dania and the
     Priests of Gothard'  I put in a great deal of time and research,
     including lengthy interviews with many of those involved in the

Dania: "If you dare..."

Kory: "I must remember to sing it to you sometime.  You'll LOVE it."

(Dania takes a swing at Kory.  He avoids it and runs away laughing.)

Kortul: "Hmph.  Meet here, dawn tomorrow."

Topash: "Agreed.  Let each prepare themselves in their fashion."

(Group disperses.)

Topash: "Oh, Dania... Q.E.B.?"

Dania: "Quite Elementary Bullshit."

Topash: "Ah..."

     The next day, our heroes set forth to the west from the great
city of Propyla.  We rode on the main trade routes, but there was very
little traffic going westward with us; occasionally, a man on a fast
horse went by, but very little else.  Traffic from the east was fairly
heavy, and completely composed of people moving out of the area.  We
rode for about a week before the changes became obvious - the brush
and grass seemed to have died off, except for one tough, crabgrass-
like variety.  We passed several abandoned farmhouses and inns.

     After 10 days, we reached Ethylia, the second capital of the
empire as Propyla was third.  (Rumor had it they were named for the
emperor's consorts, but you know how reliable rumors are.)  The city
wall was only partially completed, but work on it seemed to have
stopped.  There were very few people in town, and those who were there
were very distant, and seemed preoccupied with their own concerns.  We
stayed an uncomfortable and nervous night, then left.  The clouds now
covered half the sky, and looked blacker and nastier all the time;
there was never any lightning, or anything you would associate with
real clouds, but they did block out the sun VERY efficiently, like ink
dribbled across the heavens.

     Two nights out of Ethylia...

(Kortul on guard duty.  We had an extra-bright campfire, and since
there was no traffic, we decided to camp right in the middle of the
road where there were no trees or grass for ambushers to hide in.)

Kortul: (Whole country feels rotten as a graveyard...)

Kory: (Starts awake) "whazzat?!"

Kortul: "Snake slid under your blanket.  Not poisonous."

Kory: "Yahh!" (Throws it away) "Jesus, why didn't you tell me?!"

Kortul: "I'm not Jesus."

Dania: "Kory, shut up and let us sleep..."

Kortul: (Gazes into darkness)

Navero: "Something is wrong..."

Dania: "What?"

Navero: "I can't sleep.  It's all too wrong, and it got worse just

Dania: "Nav, what are you talking about?"

Kortul: "Shh..."

(Silence.  Everyone is awake and listening.  Then, rushing footsteps.
Many rushing footsteps.)

Kortul: (Unsheathes Sun Sword.  Light shows many disgusting humanoids
     rushing towards the camp.)

Topash: "Ghouls, I believe.  They are a violation; Kortul, Razuli,
     stay back from them, they can paralyze humans."

Dania: (Magic Missiles a Ghoul(?))

Kortul: "Hmph." (Steps forward, butchers one with Sun Sword.)

Navero: "By the Lords of the CorrecOOMPH!" (Ghoul(?) barrels into his
     gut and drops him.)

Razuli: "Aw, get up!" (Attacks Ghoul on Navero.)

Arlor: (Hides under a blanket)

Ghouls: "Gibber gibber gargle snort drool" (Claw Topash, Navero,
     Arlor; saves are requested of all.)

Topash: "Oh shit, they're Ghasts."

Game Master: You're paralyzed.  Shut up.

(Navero and Arlor are also paralyzed.)

Dania: "SHIT!!"  (Melf's Acid Arrow on a Ghast)

Kortul: (Butchers 2 more with Sun Sword)

Razuli: "This is another fine mess you got me into.  You really owe
     me, magic-user." (Slices a Ghast, wounding it.)

Kory: "Say, did you notice that a lot of our decaying guests are
     dressed like farmers?"  (Slices another Ghast.)

Ghasts: "Gibber gibber <obscene gerund> <racial slur>" (Flee)

Kory: "Hey!  Why'd they all run away?  I was having fun!"

Razuli: "Must have seen your face."

Kory: "Oh, come on!  I could play Dead Man's Party for them!"

Dania: "Oh, shut the fuck up.  Get the wounded cleaned and bandaged."

Kory: "YES, MA'AM!  Right away, oh party leader extraordinaire!  Who
     elected you to the illustrious position of Queen of chaos..."

Kortul: "Bandage wounded.  NOW.  Get poison out first."

Kory: "You're no fun anymore.  God, nothing around here is fun

Daniel Parsons
                "Do you know an interior decorator who does exteriors?
                       This place could sure use some brightening up."

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